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Global Geopolitical Series: Sino-American ties under strain as U.S. Senate passes Tibet Act

Despite the ongoing trade optimism, where President Donald Trump said that he could intervene in the case of Huawei ‘s Chief Financial Officer (CFO) against the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ), who was arrested by the Canadian Authority after receiving an extradition request from the DoJ, and China plans to reduce tariffs on U.S. auto products from 40 percent to 15 percent, the relation is set to sour further as the U.S. Senate passed a bill known as the ‘Tibet Act’ in bipartisan support that imposes sanctions on several Chinese officials over human rights violation in Tibet, such as denying U.S. government officials and journalists access to Tibet, the remote Himalayan homeland of the exiled Dalai Lama.

The ‘Tibet Act’ or the ‘Reciprocal access to Tibet Act’ that seeks unhindered access to Tibetan areas to US officials, journalists and common citizens, something which is routinely denied by the Chinese government, was passed by the House of Representatives in September, and last night, it got passed in the Senate. The bill would now be sent to the White House for the President to sign that into law. President Trump, who has been the main promoter of reciprocity when coming to Sino-American ties, is not likely to veto the bill.

The 14th Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India, since fleeing Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in his homeland, is seen as one of the major threats by the Chinese government. The bill requires the Secretary of State to assess the level of access to Tibet for US citizens within 90 days of the enactment of the legislation and to send a report to Congress identifying Chinese officials who are responsible for keeping Americans out of Tibet. The Secretary of State will then ban those officials from receiving visas to enter the US.

China criticized the decision and warned that the move would further strain the Sino-American relation, which is already under stress thanks to President Trump’s war on China’s trade surplus with the United States among others such as the force transfer of technologies.

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