High-level US delegation visits Dharamshala to meet Dalai Lama; China frowns

Dharamshala/New Delhi, June 18 (UNI) A high-level US Congressional delegation, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, was accorded a warm welcome as they arrived on Tuesday in the hill town of Dharamshala, in Himachal Pradesh, to meet the Dalai Lama and interact with members of the Tibetan government in exile, even as China expressed its displeasure over the meeting.

The US Congressional Delegation, led by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, House Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Gregory W. Meeks, House Rules Committee Ranking Member Jim McGovern, House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Indo-Pacific Ranking Member Ami Bera, and Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, and Nicole Malliotakis was accorded a warm welcome by leaders of the Central Tibetan Administration, as the Tibetan government in exile is known, and Tibetan people living there.

The US Congressional delegation will meet Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, 88, tomorrow, followed by a felicitation ceremony by the Central Tibetan Administration on behalf of Tibetans living in Tibet and those living in exile at Dharamshala.

Tenzin Lekshay, spokesperson of the CTA, said in a post on X:

“We welcome the US Congressional Delegation headed by @RepMcCaul, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, @SpeakerPelosi @RepMcGovern @RepGregoryMeeks Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, @RepMalliotakis and Rep. Ami Bera to Dharamshala, India.”

The official X page of the CTA posted: “The U.S. Congressional bipartisan delegation, led by @RepMcCaul along with erstwhile @SpeakerPelosi, received a warm welcome reception from the leadership of Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamshala, HP, India, on 18 June 20.”

The visit to Dharamshala comes as US lawmakers last week passed the Resolve Tibet Bill, a bipartisan bill to enhance support for Tibet and promote dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama. The bill now goes to President Joe Biden, who is expected to sign it into law.

Meanwhile, China on Tuesday urged President Biden not to sign the Tibet bill and warned of “resolute measures” even as it expressed “strong concern” over the visit of the US Congress delegation to Dharamshala.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian told a media briefing in Beijing: “The 14th Dalai Lama is not a pure religious figure, but a political exile engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the cloak of religion.”

“We are gravely concerned over the relevant reports and urge the US side to fully recognise the anti-China separatist nature of the Dalai group, honour the commitments the US has made to China on issues related to Xizang, have no contact with the Dalai group in any form, and stop sending the wrong signal to the world,” he said.

China refers to Tibet as Xizang.

In a veiled warning, Lin said “Tibet related affairs are purely China’s internal affairs that brook no external interference”.

“No one and no force should ever attempt to destabilise Tibet to contain and suppress China. Such attempts will never succeed,” he said.

“We urge the US side to adhere to its commitments of recognising Xizang as part of China and not supporting ‘Xizang independence.’ The US must not sign the bill into law. China will take resolute measures to firmly defend its sovereignty, security and development interests,” he said.

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul, who is an original sponsor of the Tibet bill, said in its support: “The United States has never accepted that Tibet was part of China since ancient times as the Chinese Communist Party falsely claims. This legislation clarifies US policy and highlights the unique language, religion, and culture of the Tibetan people. It directs US diplomacy to push back against CCP propaganda. In addition, it ensures Tibetans have a say in their own future.”

“This bill stresses the need for dialogue between the CCP and other democratically elected leaders of Tibet. Any resolution must include the wishes and voice of the Tibetan people…Passing this bill demonstrates America’s resolve that the CCP’s status quo in Tibet is not acceptable and I can think of no greater message or gift to the Dalai Lama and the people of Tibet than the swift passage of this bill to get to the President’s desk as soon as possible to help put the people of Tibet in charge of their own future,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama is set to visit the US later this week for medical treatment for his knees.

He fled Tibet in March 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, and has been living in exile in McLeodganj on the suburbs of Dharamsala since then.

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