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US lawmakers defy China's warning, meet Dalai Lama in India

China strongly protested against the visit of the US Congress delegation to the seat of the TGiE in India and its plan to meet the Dalai Lama.
Last Updated : 19 June 2024, 06:13 IST

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New Delhi: The Tibetans have the right to self-determination, Michael McCall, the chair of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, said on Wednesday as he led a bipartisan delegation of the American Congress to meet the 14th Dalai Lama in Dharamshala in India, defying warnings by China.

Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives, was a member of the delegation that met the Dalai Lama. She launched a scathing attack on President Xi Jinping’s government in Beijing for denying the rights of the Tibetans. “His Holiness the Dalai Lama will live a long time and his legacy will live forever, but you, President (Xi Jinping), will be gone and nobody will give you credit for anything."

The US lawmakers handed over to the Dalai Lama at his residence a copy of the Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act, which was recently passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives of the American Congress and would be signed into law by President Joe Biden soon.

“The Tibetan people possess a distinct religion, culture, and historic identity and they should have a say in their own future. You should be able to freely practice your religion and that is why we are here today in defiance of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) warning,” McCall said at a felicitation ceremony held by the Tibetan Government in Exile (TGiE) – formally known as the Central Tibetan Administration – in Dharamshala.

“Our delegation received a letter from the CCP, warning us not to come here. They repeated their false claim that Tibet has been part of China since the 13th century. But we did not let the CCP intimidate us, and we are here today," he said.

Pelosi said that the US Congress’ bipartisan approval for the Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act sent a message to China - that Washington was clear in its thinking on this issue. “This Bill says to the Chinese government: things have changed now, get ready for that,” she said addressing the cheering crowd of hundreds of Tibetans in Dharamshala.

The Dalai Lama told the US lawmakers that he wanted the people of the world to be happy and peaceful. “We are the same human beings; we all have the same rights and this world belongs to humanity. We should take care of the world irrespective of religion and tradition," he was heard saying in a video clip released later.

Beijing had warned Washington DC of “resolute measures” to be initiated by China to firmly defend its sovereignty, security, and development interests if Biden signed the new Bill into law.

China strongly protested against the visit of the US Congress delegation to the seat of the TGiE in India and its plan to meet the Dalai Lama. “It is known by all that the 14th Dalai Lama is not a purely religious figure, but a political exile engaged in separatist activities against China under the cloak of religion,” Lin Jian, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of China, told journalists in Beijing.

The US House of Representatives voted 391-26 on June 12 to approve the Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Bill. The same Bill was passed by the US Senate last month. US President Joe Biden is expected to sign it into a law soon.

The Bill, introduced in the US Senate by Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley, seeks to direct funds to counter 'disinformation' allegedly spread by China about the history, people, and institutions of Tibet. It refutes the claim of the government that Tibet has been a part of China since ancient times. It seeks to make it US policy that the dispute over the status of Tibet remains unresolved. The Bill also says that 'Tibet' refers not only to the Tibet Autonomous Region, as defined by the Government of China, but also to the areas of Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, and Yunnan provinces of the communist country.

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Published 19 June 2024, 06:13 IST

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