The new legislation, called the Tibetan Policy and Support Act (TPSA), appears in depth in the 5,000-page statute and has drawn attention to impacting the current reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, and it is one of the few cases in which the Buddhist concept has been mentioned in US law.
Tsering, vice president of the International Campaign for Tibet, which helped congressional leaders draft the legislation, said the unusual religious language is not an example of US lawmakers “donating Tibetan religion.” Instead, the reincarnation provisions aim to preserve the cultural and political distinction of Tibet.
Tsering said that by adding new provisions to the Tibet Act of 2002, the new law “institutionalizes” two decades of developments in US policy on Tibet.
Much like the massive spending bill, TPSA started as a standalone piece of legislation but has been added to the post-loss stimulus package on Capitol Hill due to the reduced legislative schedule brought on by Corona Virus pandemic.
The most important provision of the TPSA directs the State Department to deny China any new consulates in the United States until a US consulate is established in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.
It also addresses environmental issues, particularly water security in Tibet after China imposed restrictions on the flow of major rivers in recent years.
The bill’s concern over reincarnation is likewise aimed at restraining Beijing. Traditionally, the Dalai Lama’s successor has been identified by a group of close disciples of the former title holder, who seek to obtain the re-birthed person for the Dalai Lamai after his death. But the Chinese government has indicated that it may call it its own Dalai Lama, hoping to control his statements and teachings.
In 1995, the government kidnapped the second highest Buddhist spiritual figure, the Panchen Lama, when he was six years old. He and his family have not been seen since.
The new TPSA stipulates penalties for Communist Party of China officials if they attempt to appoint a successor to the Dalai Lama, and urges international coordination to revoke recognition of any Dalai Lama chosen by Chinese Communist leaders.
But Tsering said the impact of the new law goes beyond mere threatening gestures. He said Americans have long been interested in Tibet, but the growing number of Tibetan Buddhists, including immigrants from Tibet, has given the United States a greater stance against how China treats Tibet.
China has long defended foreign criticism of its treatment of Tibet by claiming that it is an internal matter. “What this law is saying now is that Tibet is largely an American issue,” Tsering said.
Religion News Service