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US bipartisan delegation meets Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, extends support to Tibetan people; likely to trigger fresh diplomatic row with China

The development comes days after the US Congress passed the Tibet policy bill that questions China’s claims over the Tibetan region. 

A high-powered USA bipartisan delegation is currently on a two-day visit to India to strengthen bilateral ties with New Delhi, and meet Indian government officials and representatives of US businesses in the country. The bipartisan delegation is led by Republican Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul. It also includes former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. They are joined by House members Gregory W. Meeks, Jim McGovern, and Ami Bera, and Representatives Mariannette Miller-Meeks and Nicole Malliotakis.

Earlier, US NSA Jake Sullivan who is also on a two-day visit to India, met with Indian NSA Ajit Doval on 17th June. They held the second meeting of the India-US Initiative on Critical and Emerging Technology (iCET). This significant meeting took place in New Delhi and marked a pivotal moment in the collaboration between the two nations. After the meeting, both nations released a joint ‘fact sheet’ that highlighted the areas of cooperation between the two countries. It asserted that the two countries are committed to ensuring that technology is developed and utilised in a way that aligns with democratic values and respects universal human rights. The partnership is seen as crucial for the future security and prosperity of the Indo-Pacific region. 

While, US-India partnership on several key issues like critical technology and Indo-Pacific region is not solely aimed to counter China’s expanionist measures and brazen acts against small Island nations in South China Sea and Indo-Pacific region, Beijing has projected it otherwise. However, the latest area of cooperation, the Tibetan issue, could trigger extremist response from Beijing. 

Interestingly, the bipartisan US delegation also met with the exiled Tibetan leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, in Dharamsala. The development is seen as a major signal of bipartisan support for the Tibetan issue, which has been the much-hyped red line for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Since 1951, when China forcibly occupied the Tibetan Plateau, resulting in the exile of Tibetan leader, Dalai Lama, Beijing has been vehemently opposing every voice that supports Tibet or its spiritual leader. 

Despite China’s stated policy, Republican Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul extended bipartisan support to Tibetans. Before meeting Tibetan spiritual leader, McCaul described them as “democracy-loving” people.  

McCaul said, “I am also honoured to have the opportunity to meet with His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Tibetans are a democracy-loving people who wish to practice their religion freely. This visit should highlight the bipartisan support in the US Congress for Tibet to have a say in their own future.” 

Additionally, the development comes days after the US Congress passed the Tibet policy bill that questions China’s claims over the Tibetan region. 

The bipartisan bill seeks to counter Beijing’s narrative about China’s control over Tibet. It seeks to promote dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama and is currently heading to the desk of US President Joe Biden for his approval. 

Earlier, the House of Representatives, in a clear majority of 391-26 votes, approved the ‘Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act’. The Senate had already passed the bill last month. After becoming act, it would direct funds to counter what it calls “disinformation” from Beijing about Tibet’s history, people and institutions.

Furthermore, the anticipation of strong response from China over US delegation meeting with the Dalai Lama stems from the developments that followed after Nancy Pelosi’s earlier visit to Taiwan, another thorn in the eyes of CCP. Just like so-called Tibetan Autonomous region, China claims Taiwan as its own part, and any support to the sovereignty or rights of the Taiwanese people is considered bolstering secessionism. 

Notably, in late 2022, then-House Speaker Pelosi visited Taiwan, despite repeated warnings by the Chinese government against contact with the self-ruled island which Beijing claims as its own. The meeting nearly froze diplomatic relationships between US and China. Since then, China has been expanding its military excercises around Taiwan and issuing threatening remarks against the Island nation. 

Incidentally, Nancy Pelosi who met with Dalai Lama in Dharamshala today, had also met with his representative during her Taiwan visit. Since China considers Tibetan as well as Taiwan issue as its Achilles’ heel, it has been escalating its purge of native Tibetan people. It has been accelerating its efforts to eradicate their language, culture, repleting its resources, traditional means of livelihood, and mass exodus. Any effort to raise voice against China’s questionable Human Rights credentials in these regions or demand for democracy is bound to cause angst and desperation in the CCP and could trigger diplomatic spats in coming times.   

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Paurush Gupta
Paurush Gupta
Proud Bhartiya, Hindu, Karma believer. Accidental Journalist who loves to read and write. Keen observer of National Politics and Geopolitics. Cinephile.

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