As part of the omnibus spending bill that Congress passed this week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who sits on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee and is the co-chair of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), cheered provisions to get tough on China while backing a free Tibet.
Rubio and U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oreg., backed including a provision “that requires the Secretary of State to determine, within 90 days after enactment, whether the persecution of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and members of other Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) constitutes atrocities.” Earlier in the year, Rubio and U.S. Rep. James McGovern, D-Mass., included similar language in their “Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act.”
“Evidence is mounting of the horrific and systematic human rights abuses and crimes against Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities by the CCP in Xinjiang,” Rubio said. “It is time for the U.S. government to clearly assess the evidence and issue a formal determination of the atrocities. Yesterday, the U.S. Senate took a stand in support of justice, and I hope the Trump Administration and any future administrations will be clear about the nature of these crimes and hold those responsible accountable. I also urge free nations to do the same and recognize these atrocities for what they are.”
“The Chinese Communist Party is committing crimes against humanity in Xinjiang—and we can’t stay silent in the face of those atrocities,” Merkley said. “You can’t fix a problem without naming it, and it’s a positive step that this legislation will require the U.S. government to assess this behavior for what it is. Now we must continue the fight, and do all that we can to hold the CCP accountable for its horrific actions. Forced labor, arbitrary detention, intrusive surveillance and policing, political indoctrination, and forced cultural assimilation of ethnic minorities should have no place anywhere in the world.”
Rubio also noted that the omnibus bill included his and McGovern’s “Tibetan Policy and Support Act” which will “update and strengthen the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002 to address emerging human rights, religious freedom, and other challenges faced by the Tibetan people.”
“Passage of the Tibetan Policy and Support Act sends an important message that the United States stands with the Tibetan people and against any effort by the Chinese Communist Party to interfere with the religious process of identifying Tibetan Buddhist leaders, such as the Dalai Lama,” Rubio said. “We must continue to shine a light on the grave assaults against the Tibetan people’s religion, culture, and language by the Chinese Communist government, both inside Tibet and outside the PRC. I applaud the passage of this bipartisan legislation and urge the State Department to use the tools it provides to address escalating human rights abuses in Tibet.”
Other senators lined up to praise Rubio’s proposal.
“Bipartisan passage of the Tibet Policy and Support Act sends a strong message to Chinese officials that the U.S. will not stay silent in the face of inference in the Tibetan Buddhist practices, including the deeply spiritual process of selecting the next Dalai Lama. Such actions will be met with consequences, such as the possibility of targeted Global Magnitsky sanctions,” said U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Mary. “Congress stands united in its support for the human rights, religious freedom and genuine autonomy of the Tibetan people.”
“We have come together with one voice by passing the Tibetan Policy and Support Act,” said U.S. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. “I have long supported the rights and freedoms of the people of Tibet. I am particularly proud that this legislation reaffirms U.S. efforts to ensure that the next Dalai Lama is appointed solely by the Tibetan Buddhist faith community without interference from the Chinese Communist Party.”
“I’m very pleased that our bill to update the Tibet Policy Act will soon become law,” said U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif. “It addresses the worsening human rights conditions and limitations on religious freedom in Tibet as well as China’s efforts to intrude on matters best left to the Tibetan people. I thank Senator Rubio for his partnership on this bill and hope it brings about positive change for the Tibetan people.”
Reach Kevin Derby at firstname.lastname@example.org.