New legislation passed by the U.S. Congress reaffirms the rights of Tibetans to choose a successor to their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, imposing sanctions on Chinese Communist Party officials if they attempt to intercede in the process.
The 2020 TPSA now signed into law imposes sanctions on Chinese Communist Party officials if they attempt to name a successor to His Holiness, and urges international coordination to reject the recognition of any Dalai Lama picked by China. The 2002 Tibetan Policy and Support Act was previously an independent piece of legislation, but was included in the spending bill after failing to make progress on Capitol Hill due to the reduced legislative schedule of the pandemic.
In Tibetan Buddhism, the 700-year-old tradition of recognizing reincarnate lamas is the most common system of sustaining spiritual lineages. In recent years, the Chinese government, who views His Holiness as a dangerous “splittist” and separatist, has indicated it may name its own Dalai Lama. His Holiness has previously stated that he may have no successor, or else his successor may be selected by the Tibetan people, but China insists that he must reincarnate and his successor will have to be approved by the state.
This can be universally recognized as a decisive point in whether or not Tibetan culture will survive or not. – Actor and pro-Tibet activist Richard Gere
The updates to the updated Tibetan Policy and Support Act also call for the establishment of a US consulate in Lhasa, Tibet, and instruct the State Department to deny China any new consulates in the United States until the U.S. Consulate is established. It also calls for the preservation of Tibet’s environment, focusing on its water security in particular, and authorizes assistance to organizations that support Tibetan communities in Tibet.
In a recent interview with Lion’s Roar’s Editor-in-Chief Melvin McLeod for our His Holiness XIV Dalai Lama Global Vision Summit, actor and pro-Tibet activist Richard Gere spoke about the importance of the rights of Tibetans to choose the Dalai Lama’s successor. “This can be universally recognized as a decisive point in whether or not Tibetan culture will survive or not,” states Gere. “Without the Dalai Lama right now, it’s hard to imagine that Tibetan culture as a unity and as a living, breathing being would survive.” View the whole clip below.