WASHINGTON: A bipartisan group of lawmakers have introduced a resolution in the US Congress which seeks treatment of Tibetans as an important factor in America's ties with China, ahead of President Donald Trump's visit there during his maiden Asia trip.
The resolution encourages China to enter into a dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives leading to a negotiated agreement with respect to Tibet.
It also calls for immediate and unconditional release of all those imprisoned for expressing their political or religious views in the Tibet Autonomous Region and other Tibetan areas.
Besides, it seeks establishment of an office in Lhasa to assist visiting US citizens and to monitor political, economic, and cultural developments in Tibet.
Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Chairman Emeritus of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Congressman Eliot Engel, Ranking Member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Congressmen Ted Yoho and Brad Sherman jointly introduced the resolution , the respective Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific.
"China's repression of the Tibetan people represents a serious threat to the region's stability and must be a higher priority in US foreign policy," Ros-Lehtinen said.
"With President Trump travelling to China next week, this resolution sets a clear blueprint for Tibet policy in US-China relations, outlining where the United States needs to take a stronger hand and stand up to Beijing's bullying," she said.
"As we mark the 10-year anniversary of his holiness the Dalai Lama receiving the Congressional Gold medal, US policy must work to reverse China's dangerous behaviour and finally achieve a negotiated solution that includes meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan people," she added.
Engel said China's systematic oppression of the Tibetan people is increasing in "intensity and cruelty".
"So when the President travels to China in the coming days, I hope he makes it clear that human rights and democratic values are central components of American foreign policy," he said.
As the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, His Holiness the Dalai Lama has inspired the world for decades with principled and peaceful leadership, a stark contrast to a regime in Beijing bent on consolidating economic and political power, Engel said.
"Congress has long supported the cause of the Tibetan people, from the Tibetan Policy Act to awarding the Dalai Lama the Congressional Gold Medal. This resolution calls on the Trump Administration to continue America's principled support of Tibetan people's right to preserve their own distinct cultural identity," he said.
International Campaign for Tibet has welcomed the resolution. Its President Matteo Mecacci said the resolution reflects decades-long and broad bipartisan support that exists for the Dalai Lama and Tibet among the American public.
"The US Congress has been at the forefront in shaping US policy on Tibet and its strong call on the Trump administration is a timely reminder to Chinese leaders and the Chinese Communist Party that the international community will continue to hold them accountable for the violation of the Tibetan people's rights," Mecacci said.
Trump embarks on a 12-day trip later this week to visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and Philippines.