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US Lawmakers Support Dalai Lama, Oppose Chinese Influence on Succession

Dalai Lama

A group of U.S. lawmakers has met exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and declared its opposition to Chinese influence over the selection of his successor.

Lawmakers’ Meeting and Statements

The bipartisan group, led by Michael McCaul, a Republican representative from Texas and chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, met the Dalai Lama at his monastery in Dharamsala, northern India. McCaul expressed hope that the Dalai Lama and his followers would one day return to Tibet peacefully. He criticised Beijing’s attempts to interfere in the selection of the Dalai Lama’s successor, affirming that the U.S. would prevent such influence.

U.S. Legislative Efforts

The lawmakers indicated that Washington would press Beijing to resume talks with Tibetan leaders, which have been stalled since 2010. This initiative is part of a bill expected to be signed by President Joe Biden soon. The bill, titled ‘Promoting a Resolution to the Tibet-China Dispute Act’ or the Resolve Tibet Act, aims to communicate Washington’s firm stance on the Tibet issue to Beijing.

Historical Context

The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet. At 88 years old and having faced health issues, he is scheduled to travel to the United States for medical treatment. The question of his successor remains contentious, with Beijing insisting that it has the right to approve the successor, a legacy it claims from China’s emperors. However, Tibetan tradition holds that the Dalai Lama is reincarnated, and the current Dalai Lama has suggested his successor may be found in India.

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International Reactions And Beijing’s Response

The U.S. delegation included former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who highlighted the significance of the Resolve Tibet Act. Pelosi emphasised that the bill signals a change to China, indicating Washington’s clear stance on Tibet.

Beijing, which denounces the Dalai Lama as a separatist, expressed serious concern over the lawmakers’ visit to Dharamsala and the proposed legislation. Chinese officials urged the lawmakers to avoid contact with what they term the “Dalai clique” and appealed to Biden not to sign the bill. Despite China’s objections, the Dalai Lama has previously met US officials, including presidents, on various visits to the United States. However, Biden has not met the Dalai Lama since taking office in 2021. It remains unclear if any meetings will occur during the Tibetan leader’s upcoming visit.

With inputs from Reuters