US lawmakers Michael McCaul, Nancy Pelosi scheduled to visit India next week to meet Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama and CTA president Penpa Tsering will meet US Congressmen

dalaif Dalai Lama | Reuters

US lawmakers, led by Michael McCaul, the Republican chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, and former House speaker Nancy Pelosi are scheduled to visit the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala next week in what is being seen as a giant leap in American support to the Tibet issue. 

After the US sent out a clear message to China on the right of Tibetans to choose a successor to their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, it has recently taken the next big step by throwing its weight behind restarting a dialogue between Tibet and China, by passing the Resolve Tibet Act in the House of Representatives on June 12. It is now pending in the White House for President Biden’s signature. 

Sources in the CTA say the proposed US law sends out a strong message to China that the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration President Penpa Tsering are the representatives of the people of Tibet and a long-lasting negotiated solution to the Tibet-China dispute is the way forward. 

The proposed visit of the US lawmakers to India comes in the backdrop of these racy developments that give the CTA a shot in the arm once again, drawing global attention to concerns of human rights and democratic freedoms and demonstrating to the Chinese that the exiled government has made considerable progress in establishing the Himalayan hill town as the nerve centre of dialogue on behalf of the Tibetans. 

What is also noteworthy is that the Dalai Lama turns 89 on July 6 and the visit coming ahead of his birthday is also demonstrative of the long and warm relations with global leaders, especially Pelosi, who enjoys a personal rapport with the spiritual leader and has visited his Hilltop residence several times in the past leading bipartisan delegations.

The US Congressional delegation is likely to consist of seven members who will get an audience with the Dalai Lama first before holding meetings with the CTA leadership led by President Penpa Tsering. 

Penpa has been travelling to all the Tibetan settlements across India and around the world, including 25 different countries, to bring the community together to prepare for future challenges. 

Speaking exclusively to The Week, Penpa said they have been working closely with the US Congress over some years now and the Resolve Tibet Act is an apt counter to China's false narrative that Tibet is part of People’s Republic of China. 

“We follow a non-violent approach to resolve the Sino-Tibet dispute through the Middle Way policy espoused by the Dalai Lama,” he said.

He explained that the Middle Way approach can be understood only if the twin polarities are understood—the historical status of Tibet as an independent state, and the present situation of Tibet under the repressive communist government. 

“Which is why the (US) law is important to explain to governments that if they keep parroting what the Chinese want them to say then it is against the law because if they support negotiations between Representatives of His Holiness Dalai Lama and the Chinese government, then they cannot contradict themselves by saying Tibet is part of PRC, because that removes the very ground for negotiation.”

With the message going out clearly that the US is in no mood to soft-pedal on the issue, it also opens the door for many countries to take a relook at their vocal support of 'One China' policy. India, for that matter, has not spoken about it for quite some time now. 


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