United States President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed into law a bill promoting access to Tibet for American diplomats, journalists, and other citizens, the White House said. The Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, 2018, which was passed by the United States Senate on December 11 and the House of Representatives in September, also denies US entry to Chinese officials held responsible for restricting access to Tibet.
The new law has angered China, which considers Tibet to be a part of the country. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press conference on Thursday that the law will harm US-China relations if implemented, Reuters reported.
On Wednesday, before Trump signed the Act into law, China had urged the American administration to stop the bill, the Asia Times reported. Beijing claimed the bill interferes in China’s internal affairs “with reckless disregard for facts”. “We urge the US administrative bodies to take immediate measures to stop it being signed into law, so as to avoid impairing China-US ties and cooperation in major areas,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.
But Tibet’s government-in-exile, known as the Central Tibetan Administration, had welcomed the passage of the bill in the US Congress earlier this month. It said the Senate’s approval for the bill was “a triumph... for American citizens, including lawmakers, activists and human rights advocates concerned about the decades-long repression in Tibet”, the Asia Times reported.
“The Chinese government continues to violate the Tibetan people’s basic freedoms, arrests them for such crimes as celebrating the Dalai Lama’s birthday, tortures them for protesting peacefully and even murders them if they try to flee into exile,” the CTA had said on December 13. “Hundreds of Tibetan prisoners of conscience are locked up in Chinese prisons, where torture is endemic, and have no access to any meaningful legal defense.”