Ranking Member Nadler Opening Statement During Markup of Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act
Washington, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee, delivered the following opening statement during a Judiciary Committee markup of H.R. 1872, the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. H.R. 1872, the “Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2017,” seeks to end restrictions imposed by the Chinese government that have prevented American journalists, human rights monitors, diplomats, and tourists from accessing Tibetan areas of the People’s Republic of China.
“This bipartisan legislation accomplishes this goal by denying U.S. visas to Chinese government officials who have created or implemented restrictions on travel by U.S. citizens to Tibet, and by requiring annual reporting to House and Senate Committees on such restrictions.
“Increased access for U.S. diplomats, journalists and tourists to Tibet will shed light on the gross human rights violations perpetrated by China against the Tibetan people. For Tibetans, restricted access to the region leaves them in virtual isolation from the rest of the world, while also precluding international witnesses to the Chinese government’s continuous violations of the Tibetans’ human rights. The State Department and many independent international human rights organizations have raised concerns about arbitrary arrests and imprisonment, torture and ill-treatment, heightened surveillance, and religious and cultural restrictions in Tibet.
“Preventing diplomats, journalists, and tourists from traveling to Tibet makes it impossible to assess the true scope of these abuses. H.R. 1872 is an important step in pushing back against these restrictive policies.
“Increased access of U.S. officials and diplomats to Tibet will also help ensure the safety of U.S. citizens in that region. For example, restricted access has made it very difficult for American consular officials to provide emergency assistance to Americans in Tibet. After an October 2013 bus crash in Tibet left three Americans dead, and many others injured, U.S. consular officers faced a prolonged delay in obtaining permission to travel to the region, which severely hindered their ability to serve American citizens in distress. They faced similar challenges in providing emergency assistance following a 2015 earthquake that trapped dozens of U.S. citizens in Tibet. This bill will help overcome those obstacles.
“Mr. Chairman, I want to thank you for bringing this important bipartisan legislation before the Committee today. As you are aware, there is widespread support for this bill on both sides of the aisle in this Committee, as well as in the Foreign Affairs Committee.
“The version of the bill that the Committee is considering today reflects refinements, negotiated between the Majority and Minority staff of both Committees, which are responsive to comments provided by the State Department. I strongly support this bill and I hope that given its broad bipartisan support it will be brought to the floor when we return from the August recess.
“I would now like to yield the balance of my time to Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who is a steadfast advocate for Tibetan human rights and a champion of this important legislation.”