BEIJING: China on Friday rebuked the US Congress over legislation seeking greater access to Tibet, saying American lawmakers "grossly interfered" in Beijing's domestic affairs.
The bill, which passed this week with bipartisan support, demands access to the region for US diplomats, journalists and tourists, threatening to bar Chinese officials responsible for the policy from the US if barriers remain for foreigners in Tibet.
Foreign visitors are generally required to obtain a special permit, with the region completely closed off to outsiders at certain times of the year.
"The relevant bill has disregarded the facts, grossly interfered in China's internal affairs, and violated the basic norms of international relations," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a regular press briefing.
"China is firmly opposed to this and has already made solemn representations to the US."
He added that some 40,000 Americans have visited Tibet since 2015, including politicians.
"We strongly urge the US administration to immediately take effective measures to prevent this bill from being signed into law, so as to avoid damage to China-US relations and the cooperation between the two countries in important areas," Lu said.
The legislation now needs the signature of US President Donald Trump.
The bill comes amid frictions between the United States and China over trade and the arrest in Canada on a US request of an executive with Chinese tech giant Huawei, who faces fraud charges related to violations of US sanctions on Iran.
A recent op-ed piece in China's state-run Global Times denounced the Tibet bill and accused the United States of "double standards or even multiple standards on human rights," pointing to how Washington pulled out of the UN Human Rights Council over the body's criticism of Israel.
Separately, US national security advisor John Bolton on Thursday lashed out at "predatory" Chinese and Russian involvement in Africa, prompting China to accuse the US of having "ulterior motives" on the continent.
"When China discusses cooperation with Africa, it discusses more about what African countries need.
But in his statement, this American (official) is only discussing about the needs of the United States, he is not thinking about Africa," Lu said.