WASHINGTON: China “systematically” impedes access to Tibet with restrictions that have prohibited diplomats, journalists and ordinary citizens from visiting, the United States said in a report on Monday (Mar 25).
The State Department documented access problems to the Himalayan region in a report to Congress mandated by the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, passed with bipartisan support in December.
The law, which notes that no US region is prohibited, requires the United States by the end of this year to deny visas to Chinese officials in charge of implementing the policy.
“The Chinese government systematically impeded travel to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and Tibetan areas outside the TAR for US diplomats and officials, journalists and tourists in 2018,” said the report to Congress.
Even visits by US diplomats were “highly restricted,” it said.
“Chinese government-designated minders followed US diplomats and officials at all times, prevented them from meeting or speaking with local contacts, interrogated them and restricted their movement in these areas,” it said.
Tibet is the only region for which China requires diplomats and journalists to seek special access.
The State Department said that China last year rejected five of the nine US requests to visit Tibet, including one by Ambassador Terry Branstad.
The report said that China denied access to journalists as well as tourists during times seen as politically sensitive and that Americans of Tibetan ancestry said they were singled out for special screening.
Matteo Mecacci, president of the International Campaign for Tibet, which pushed for the law, welcomed the report as a sign that the United States is “serious” about reciprocal access to Tibet.
China invaded Tibet in the 1950s, which led to various uprisings in the area. Mass protests took place, and riots broke out. The Dalai Lama fled to take refuge, fearing for his life. There was an uprising in the region, but the uprising failed.