Tibet: Problems, Prospects, and U.S. Policy

Prepared for Members and Committees of Congress

On March 10, 2008, a series of demonstrations began in Lhasa and other Tibetan regions of China th
to mark the 49 anniversary of an unsuccessful Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.
The demonstrations appeared to begin peacefully with small groups that were then contained by
security forces. Both the protests and the response of the PRC authorities escalated in the ensuing
days, spreading from the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) into parts of Sichuan, Gansu, and
Qinghai Provinces with Tibetan populations. By March 14, 2008, mobs of angry people were
burning and looting establishments in downtown Lhasa. Authorities of the People’s Republic of
China (PRC) responded by sealing off Tibet and moving in large-scale security forces. Beijing
has defended its actions as appropriate and necessary to restore civil order and prevent further
violence. Still, China’s response has resulted in renewed calls for boycotts of the Beijing
Olympics opening ceremony on August 8, 2008, and for China to hold talks with the Dalai Lama.
China sees itself as having provided Tibet with extensive economic assistance and development
using money from central government coffers, and PRC officials often seem perplexed at the
simmering anger many Tibetans nevertheless retain against them. Despite the economic
development, Tibetans charge that the PRC interferes with Tibetan culture and religion. They cite
as examples: Beijing’s interference in 1995 in the choice of the Panchen Lama, Tibet’s second
highest-ranking personage; enactment of a “reincarnation law” in 2007 requiring Buddhist monks
who wish to reincarnate to obtain prior approval from Beijing; and China’s policy of conducting
“patriotic education” campaigns, as well as efforts to foster atheism, among the Tibetan religious
community. The PRC defends the campaigns as a tool to help monks become loyal, law-abiding
citizens of China.
Controversy over the role of the Dalai Lama and the impact of PRC control on Tibet’s language,
culture, and religion have prompted recurring actions by Congress in support of Tibet’s th
traditions—actions routinely denounced by Beijing. Members of the 110 Congress have
responded to the March 2008 demonstrations and crackdowns with legislation requiring U.S.
government officials to boycott the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony (H.R. 5668); proposals
condemning the crackdown and asking Beijing to hold talks with the Dalai Lama (H.Res. 1075
and H.Res. 1077); and the formation of a new Tibet Caucus.
Many fear there is little hope that Beijing will make significant changes in its Tibet policy, despite
even the urgent advice of China’s friends. Beijing appears to have calculated that it can out-wait
the 72-year-old Dalai Lama, and that his demise will result in the Tibetan movement’s
disintegration. But many see the Dalai Lama and his influence within the Tibetan community as
the key to unlocking China’s difficulties in Tibet. They see China’s rejection of the Dalai Lama’s
“middle way” approach as having undercut his ability to influence younger, more militant
Tibetans. They believe his death, without having reached an understanding from Beijing for
greater Tibetan autonomy, would remove an important source of restraint on more ideological
elements in the Tibetan community. This report will be updated as events warrant.

Introduc tion ..................................................................................................................................... 1
Current Situation Concerning Tibet.................................................................................................1
March 2008 Demonstrations and Crackdown...........................................................................1
Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement (TPUM)..................................................................3
Media Coverage..................................................................................................................3
PRC Views of the Dalai Lama............................................................................................3
Other Issues in Tibet..................................................................................................................5 th
Status of the 11 Panchen Lama.........................................................................................5
China’s 2007 “Reincarnation Law”....................................................................................6
“Patriotic Education” Campaigns.......................................................................................6
Theft of Tibetan Artifacts....................................................................................................7
Economic Development......................................................................................................8
Implications for U.S. Policy......................................................................................................8
Sino-Tibetan Dialogue........................................................................................................9
Implication for 2008 Olympics.........................................................................................10
Implications for Congress.................................................................................................10
Background on Modern Tibet.........................................................................................................11
Tibetan/Chinese Political History......................................................................................11
Tibet as a Geographical Entity..........................................................................................12
The Dalai Lama’s 1959 Flight and Exile..........................................................................12
History of U.S. Policy Since the 1980s.........................................................................................13
Efforts to Create a Special Envoy for Tibet......................................................................16
U.S. Legislation and Financial Assistance for Tibet.........................................................16
The Dalai Lama and the Congressional Medal of Honor.................................................17
Congressional Response to the March 2008 Demonstrations...........................................18
Appendix A. Legislative Earmarks for Tibet.................................................................................19
Appendix B. Selected U.S. Government Reports with Components on Tibet..............................22
Author Contact Information..........................................................................................................23

The political and cultural status of Tibet remains a difficult issue in U.S.-China relations, and
appropriate U.S. actions continue to generate debate among U.S. policymakers. Controversy
continues over Tibet’s current political status as part of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the
role of the Dalai Lama and his Tibetan government-in-exile, and the impact of Chinese control on
Tibetan culture and religious traditions. These controversies have prompted recurring U.S.
congressional actions in support of Tibet’s status and traditions—actions that are routinely
denounced by the Chinese government in Beijing.
This report consists of three free-standing parts: the first discusses current issues in Tibet,
including the March 2008 Chinese crackdown against demonstrations in Lhasa and elsewhere; the
second briefly reviews Tibet’s historical and political status with respect to China—a basic source
of controversy in many Sino-Tibetan problems; and the third reviews and analyzes U.S. relations
with and congressional actions toward Tibet since the 1980s, including legislative initiatives.

On March 10, 2008, a series of demonstrations began in Lhasa and elsewhere in Tibetan regions th
of China to mark the 49 anniversary of an unsuccessful Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule in 1
1959. Although reports differ on the details, the 2008 demonstrations appeared to begin
peacefully with a small group demonstrating in the Barkhor Plaza in front of the Jokhang Temple 2
in Lhasa. According to one report, the protestors at this event were arrested, and Buddhist monks 3
from the Drepung, Sera, and Ganden monasteries around Lhasa then began protesting the arrests.
These demonstrations also were contained by security forces.
Both the protests and the response of the PRC authorities escalated in the ensuing days, spreading
out from the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and into parts of Sichuan, Gansu, and Qinghai
Provinces that are populated by Tibetans. By the afternoon of March 14, 2008, in the absence of
an apparent response by PRC security forces, mobs of angry people were burning and looting
businesses and other establishments in downtown Lhasa. Although official Chinese reports later 4
stated that large caches of weapons had been found in Lhasa’s monasteries, a special report
shown on China’s official state television, China Central Television (CCTV) showed no weapons 5
being used by protesters other than fists, rocks, and the occasional knife. The CCTV report began
its account of the protests with the violence on March 14, when rioters began rampaging in

1 The 1959 uprising caused the young Dalai Lama to flee to India with some of his followers, where he remains today
in Dharamsala with the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.
2 Drew, Jill, “Chinese authorities surround monasteries in Tibet, witnesses say, Washington Post, March 14, 2008, p.
3 Ibid.
4 The announcement of weapons is attributed to a spokesman for Chinas Ministry of Public Security, Wu Heping,
“China; Beijing escalates Tibet accusations, Los Angeles Times, April 2, 2008. P. A-4.
5Chinas CCTV broadcasts special report on Tibet riots in Lhasa, OSC Report, video shown in both Mandarin and
English, FEA20080321593347.

Lhasa; the television account made no mention of any peaceful protests or arrests in the preceding
Reports differ on the numbers and identities of those killed during the initial demonstrations. By
March 31, 2008, official PRC sources reportedly claimed that 18 had died, while the Tibetan 6
government-in-exile reportedly claimed 140 had died. Based on numerous and sometimes
sketchy reports, the dead included both Tibetans and ethnic Han Chinese merchants, some of the
former reportedly having been shot by police, and some of the latter reportedly having died in
their establishments in fires set by the mob. According to news reports, on March 16, 2008, the
TAR government declared a “people’s war” in Tibet—a term from revolutionary Maoism—
ostensibly to eradicate support for the Dalai Lama and stamp out the aspirations of some Tibetans 7
for independence.
The demonstrations have resulted in a greatly enhanced presence of PRC security forces in 8
Tibetan areas. By some reports, security forces beginning in late March conducted house-to-
house searches for those that may have been involved in the demonstrations. According to one
report, Burma turned over to China two Tibetan political activists who were said to have fled into 9
Burma from China’s Yunnan Province after demonstrations there. Although Beijing has sealed
off Tibet to tourists and foreign reporters (with the exception of a few selected groups of
journalists), sketchy reports suggest that isolated demonstrations in Tibetan areas of China have
recurred despite the enhanced security presence.
March is one of the two months (the other being October) that are especially—and for many
Tibetans, unhappily—symbolic months of Chinese rule. March 10 marks the anniversary of the
Tibetan National Uprising in 1959, and October 7 marks the anniversary of the PRC invasion of 10
Tibet in 1950. Outside China, Tibetan groups proceeded with other commemorations of the
1959 Tibetan National Uprising. As he has for many years on the anniversary date, the Dalai
Lama gave a speech in which he expressed fear for the welfare of the Tibetan people and
criticized the Chinese government for “unimaginable and gross violations of human rights, denial
of religious freedom, and the politicization of religious issues.” He used the occasion of the
speech also to reiterate his support for Beijing’s hosting of the August 2008 Olympic Games, and
to urge Tibetans to work “peacefully and within the law” to ensure their legitimate rights as 11
citizens of the PRC. On the same date, other Tibetan exiles began a protest march into Tibet
from Dharamsala, India, reportedly to increase pressure on Beijing to improve the situation in 12

6 Figure cited in an OSC Report, “China: Map of Tibetan Unrest, Updated March 31, 2008.” FEA20080323595427.
7 “China declares ‘people’s war’ in Tibet,” HeraldSun.com.au, March 16, 2008.
8 Although official reports are that the security forces used were the Peoples Armed Police (PAP) and not the Peoples
Liberation Army (PLA), some observers have noted that many trucks and other vehicles employed in quelling the
protests had newspapers covering their license plates and insignia, making it difficult to determine their origin.
9Burma deports two Tibetan activists to China, Associated Press, reported in The Irrawaddy, April 1, 2008.
10 Prior to the outbreak of the recent demonstrations in March 2008, there was another period of widespread Tibetan
demonstrations that began with a small pro-independence protest by monks in Lhasa on September 27, 1987, and
continued sporadically through 1989.
11 Statement of H.H. the Dalai Lama on the 29th Tibetan National Uprising day. See full text at
12 The march later was called off. Kumar, Hari, “Tibetans protest in Delhi, but march is off, New York Times, April 1,

A new Tibetan activist grouping appeared to begin on January 4, 2008, when five Tibetan
organizations outside China launched the Tibetan People’s Uprising Movement (TPUM) to 13
engage in “direct action to end China’s illegal and brutal occupation of [Tibet].” The
organization announced that it was seeking to take advantage of two approaching historic th
moments: the Beijing Olympics in August 2008 and the coming 50 anniversary of the 1959
Tibetan uprising. Among the group’s stated demands are: the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet as its
sole leader; the end of China’s “colonial occupation” of Tibet; release of all Tibetan political
prisoners and restoration of religious and human rights to Tibetans; and cancellation of the 2008 14
Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Controversy also has been generated by reports of differing media coverage of the March
demonstrations in Tibet, with PRC officials charging that western media coverage has been
biased. On March 21, 2008, a PRC web log, with disturbingly inflammatory language, was 15
established purporting to show this media bias. The site reproduces videos shot by observers in
Lhasa showing the violence of the riots; discusses news photos cropped in ways some say are
misleading; and cites errors in news stories, captions, and photos in which police in Nepal and
India, roughing up Tibetan demonstrators, appear with written descriptions of PRC police actions
in Lhasa. Tibetan supporters counter that PRC accounts make no mention of the days of peaceful
demonstrations preceding the riots, and that Chinese press reports focus on reportage of the Han
Chinese victims to the riots.
Official PRC reports routinely refer to diverse Tibetan organizations outside Tibet as the “Dalai
clique,” reflecting their belief that all these groups are controlled and directed by the Dalai Lama, 16
and thereby represent his views and effectively are acting on his behalf. The PRC has alleged
that the agenda of some of these groups proves that the Dalai Lama has never renounced his
dream of an independent Tibet. (In recent years, the Dalai Lama has advocated greater autonomy
for Tibet within China, but not formal independence from the PRC.) The PRC’s Ministry of
Public Security (MPS) asserted that it “had gathered sufficient evidence” showing that the March

2008 unrest in Lhasa and elsewhere “was organized, premeditated, masterminded and instigated 17

by the Dalai clique and its ‘Tibet independence’ forces.” According to a PRC official, “The
[Lhasa] incident has once more exposed the separatist essence and the hypocrisy and

13 The five organizations are: Tibetan Youth Congress, Tibetan Women’s Association, Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of
Tibet, National Democratic Party of Tibet, and Students for a Free Tibet, India. http://www.tibetanwomen.org/press/
14 See the group’s website: http://tibetanuprising.org/category/background/.
15 http://www.anti-cnn.com/
16 PRC sources cited these groups as including the Tibetan Youth Congress; the Tibetan Women’s Association;
Students for a Free Tibet; the Gu-Chu-Sum Movement of Tibet; the National Democratic Party of Tibet; the
International Tibet Support network; and the Tibetan Writers Organization.
17 Ministry of Public Security, “China publishes evidences of Dalai cliques masterminding of riots, Xinhua in
English, CPP20080401968233, April 1, 2008.

deceitfulness of the alleged “peace” and “nonviolence” of the Dalai clique.”18 Two decades ago,
the PRC used similar language to refer to the widespread demonstrations in Tibet from 1987-

1989: “We have conclusive evidence to show that the Lhasa riot early this month was instigated 19

and engineered by the Dalai Separatist clique.” Other PRC references to the Dalai Lama have
been more venomous. On March 18, 2008, the Communist Party Secretary of Tibet called the
Dalai Lama “a jackal and wolf clothed in [a monk’s robes], and a vicious devil who is a beast in 20
human form.”
Supporters of Tibet point out that the international Tibetan movement is not as monolithic as PRC
officials claim. They say that some Tibetan organizations, including those in the TPUM, do not
support the Dalai Lama’s policy of seeking broader Tibetan autonomy under Chinese 21
sovereignty. As for the March 2008 demonstrations, the Dalai Lama has denied that he is behind
them, saying:
I ... appeal to the Chinese leadership to stop using force and address the long-simmering
resentment of the Tibetan people through dialogue with the Tibetan people. I also urge my 22
fellow Tibetans not to resort to violence.
Those who have met the Dalai Lama personally or who know something of his pacifist views
generally find it impossible to reconcile their own experiences of him with the deviousness and
malign intent that PRC officials generally ascribe to him in public statements. To Western
audiences, the Dalai Lama’s adoption of a “middle way” approach indicates he has given up his
aspirations of independence for Tibet (despite the contrary views of a pro-independence wing in
the international Tibetan community) and instead is seeking only greater autonomy for Tibet as
part of the PRC.
In his speech at the Congressional Gold Medal Award Ceremony in October 2007, for instance,
the Dalai Lama said “... let me take this opportunity to restate categorically that I am not seeking
independence. I am seeking a meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan people within the People’s 23
Republic of China.” In a written appeal directly to the Chinese people on March 28, 2008, the
Dalai Lama reiterated that he has “no desire to seek Tibet’s separation [from China]” ... but that
he seeks to “ensure the survival of the Tibetan people’s distinctive culture, language, and 2425
identity.” The PRC has called the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” a “sidetrack to independence.”

18 Remarks attributed to PRC Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao, “PRC FM Spokesman: Lhasa Incident
‘Engineered’ by ‘Tibet Independence’ Forces, Xinhua Domestic Service in Chinese, translated in FBIS,
CPP20080317074018, March 17, 2008.
19 Gargan, Edward, “Tibet Communists Link Riots to Dalai Lama,” New York Times, November 1, 1987. Quote
attributed to Doje Cering, then Chairman of the Government of the Tibetan Region.
20 “Tibet Party Secretary urges ‘People’s War’ on Separatism in Speech 18 March,Lhasa Zhongguo Xizang Xinwen
Wang in Chinese, translated in FBIS, CPP20080319530002, March 19, 2008.
21 See Congressional-Executive Commission on China, CECC Analysis, April 4, 2008, p. 3. See http://cecc.gov/pages/
22 Press release from the Dalai Lama, March 27, 2008. http://www.dalailama.com/news.216.htm
23 “His Holiness’ Speech at the Congressional Gold Medal Award Ceremony, October 17, 2007. See text at
24 Dalai Lama, “An appeal to the Chinese people,” March 28, 2008. See full text at http://www.dalailama.com/
25 Statement on PRC Embassy website: “Commentary:Middle Way does not hold water, October 27, 2004.

Many fear that PRC policies toward Tibet in recent years demonstrate that there is little hope that
Beijing will make significant changes in its policy calculations, despite even the urgent advice of
those who wish China well. China appears to have calculated that it can out-wait the 72-year-old
Dalai Lama, and that the demise of this compelling personality will result in the disintegration of
the Tibetan movement altogether. But many westerners see the Dalai Lama and his influence
within the Tibetan community as the key to unlocking China’s long-standing difficulties in Tibet.
They see China’s continued rejection of the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” approach as increasingly
having undercut his ability to influence younger, more militant Tibetans, who see his moderate
approach as having brought nothing but opprobrium from Beijing. They believe his demise,
without having reached an understanding from Beijing for greater Tibetan autonomy, would
remove an important source of restraint on more ideological elements in the Tibetan community.
In addition to the March 2008 demonstrations and PRC crackdown in Tibet, the international
Tibetan community points out other recent and ongoing controversies over PRC rule in Tibet.
They assert that no freedom of religion or expression exists in Tibet, and that Communist leaders
in Beijing, and not Tibetans, are directing and managing the most basic decisions involving
Tibetan culture and religious belief. Religious publications continue to be tightly controlled by
Chinese authorities, as are religious celebrations and the ability of Tibetan minors to receive
religious instruction. While the physical infrastructure of religious institutions in Tibet appears
better maintained than five years ago, some recent observations in Lhasa suggest that there are 26
fewer signs of religious devotion at Lhasa’s holiest sites than in the past.

Controversy has continued over the fate of a young boy recognized by the Dalai Lama in 1995 as th
the 11 Panchen Lama—the second highest-ranking figure in Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetans believe
that when a high-ranking spiritual leader dies, he is then reborn, or reincarnated, to await
rediscovery by special “search committees.” In May 1995, the Dalai Lama announced that after
years of searching—using search committees sanctioned by the Chinese government—Gedhun
Choekyi Nyima, a six-year-old boy living in Tibet, had been found to be the legitimate
reincarnation of the deceased Panchen Lama.
Beijing officials reportedly were furious that the Dalai Lama made his announcement unilaterally
without involving leaders in Beijing, regarding this as a direct challenge to central government
authority to have a final say in this important Tibetan decision. PRC officials responded by
maintaining that only they had the authority to name this spiritual leader. Consequently, in
November 1995, Chinese leaders rejected the Dalai Lama’s choice and announced they had
discovered the “real” Panchen Lama—five-year-old Gyaltsen Norbu, son of a yak herder. On th
November 29, 1995, this boy was officially enthroned as the 11 Panchen Lama in a ceremony
attended by some Tibetan monks and senior Chinese communist leaders. Immediately thereafter,

26 Observations of this author based on visits to Lhasa in 2002 and again in 2007. In addition to far scantier crowds in
2007 than in 2002 at the Jokhang Temple and the Potala Palace—both of which were in better physical shape than
previouslythe Potala featured a newprison chamber exhibit, including sound effects, purporting to demonstrate the
tortures that monks inflicted on the Tibetan people before PRC rule.

both boys and their families were taken into custody by Chinese authorities and held in
undisclosed locations in China.
In June 1999, Gyaltsen Norbu, the boy recognized by Beijing, reappeared in Tibet for the first
time, reportedly under heavy security. He made his first official appearance before an
international audience on April 13, 2006. But the Chinese government has never allowed anyone
from the international community to have access to or information about Gendun Choekyi
Nyima, the boy recognized by the Dalai Lama. Allegedly the boy remains with his family under
government supervision (some say house arrest), with his whereabouts being kept secret “for his
own protection,” according to Chinese officials. The missing boy turns 19 in April 2008.
The case of the 11th Panchen Lama raised implications for what happens upon the death and th
subsequent reincarnation of the current Dalai Lama (the 14) living in exile. Apparently mindful th
of its previous experience with the 11 Panchen Lama, Beijing late in 2007 took steps designed to
solidify its future control over the selection process of Tibetan lamas. On August 3, 2007, the
State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) issued a set of regulations, effective
September 1, 2007, that require all Tibetan lamas wishing to reincarnate to obtain prior
government approval through the submission of a “reincarnation application.” In a statement
accompanying the regulations, SARA called the step “an important move to institutionalize 27
management on reincarnation of living Buddhas.”
The Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy, Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, described the new regulations as a blow
against “the heart of Tibetan religious identity.” The regulations also require that reincarnation
applications come from “legally registered venues” for Tibetan Buddhism—a provision seen as
an attempt to illegalize the reincarnation of the current Dalai Lama, who has declared he will not
be reborn in China if circumstances in Tibet remain unchanged. In the aftermath of the new
reincarnation law, the Dalai Lama also has said that he is thinking of alternative ways of choosing
his successor, including selecting a candidate before his own death. A Chinese Foreign Ministry
spokesman responded to these comments by saying that such a move would “violate religious 28
rituals and historical conventions of Tibetan Buddhism.” The new reincarnation law inserts the
Chinese government directly into what for centuries has been one of the principal mystical and
religious aspects of Tibetan Buddhism.
One of the grievances raised by the Tibetan government-in-exile and by Tibetans in the 2008
demonstrations is the PRC’s ongoing “Patriotic Education” campaigns, carried out in Tibet in an
effort to promote loyalty to the regime in Beijing. In the mid-1990s, these campaigns reportedly
became a government tool to control monastic activity in Tibet and discredit the Dalai Lama
among Tibetans. In pursuit of what they call “patriotic education,” teams of Chinese officials visit
Tibetan monasteries and subject Tibetan monks to education and training. According to a Hong

27 An English translation of the new laws is provided by the International Campaign for Tibet at http://savetibet.org/
28Chinas statement on the Dalai Lama succession revealshidden agenda of new regulations on reincarnation,
International Campaign for Tibet, November 28, 2007.

Kong newspaper report, in late May 2001, at the Fourth Tibet Work Forum, PRC authorities
discussed how to cope with what they referred to as the “convergence and collaboration of five
evil forces”—defined as Tibetan independence, Xinjiang independence, Taiwan independence, 29
the Falun Gong movement, and the pro-democracy movement. According to reports, the goal of
this particular campaign was to lessen the Dalai Lama’s influence in Tibet by defining him as a 30
“loyal tool of the Western anti-Chinese forces.”
In mid-October 2005, Tibetan monks who had recently fled into exile were reporting new
Patriotic Education campaigns underway in Tibet, with adult monks being required to denounce
the Dalai Lama as a “separatist” and others being turned out of their monasteries. According to
the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy (TCHRD), nearly 12,000 monks and nuns 31
were expelled from their monasteries between 1996-2005 under these campaigns. In the wake
of the March 2008 demonstrations, PRC Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu called for China
to broaden “Patriotic Education” campaigns. According to news reports, the announcement of
new efforts to “re-educate” Buddhist monks in Tibet has resulted in renewed protests and 32
crackdowns at some monasteries.
In other efforts to limit or eradicate Buddhism, in January 1999, Chinese officials began a three-
year campaign to foster atheism in Tibet. According to a U.S. government report, a Chinese
propaganda official in Tibet described the new campaign in a television interview, saying
“intensifying propaganda on atheism plays an extremely significant role in promoting economic
construction ... and to help peasants and herdsmen free themselves from the negative influence of 33
reli gi on.”
Increasing attention is being paid to what Tibetan specialists today say is the theft and plundering
of Tibetan religious and cultural antiquities. Some specialists allege that the purpose of this
modern plunder is simply monetary gain, and that an assortment of unscrupulous art dealers,
corrupt Chinese officials, poor Tibetan locals, unethical Tibetan monks, and Western counter-
culture enthusiasts of Tibetan artifacts and culture are primary participants and beneficiaries.
When asked how many antiquities could be left in Tibet today given the widespread destruction
of much of Tibetan artifacts and culture from the 1950s to the 1970s, noted Tibetan expert Dr.
Robert Barnett asserted that the Chinese government, seeking to atone for past atrocities, “gave a
lot [of confiscated artifacts] back” in the 1980s under the more enlightened and culturally
sensitive policies pursued by Deng Xiaoping and by then-PRC Party Secretary Hu Yaobang. It is
these “returned” artifacts that are now disappearing for the second time, according to Dr. Barnett,
being stolen and sold in an increasingly voracious global market for Tibetan antiquities.
Tibetan scholars admit that much is unknown about the details of what has happened to Tibetan
artifacts and antiquities, save that much has disappeared and much more is appearing for sale on
eBay, is being sold or auctioned off in antique stores or by major auction houses, or is being

29 Hong Kong Ming Bao, in Chinese, May 19, 2001, translated in FBIS online.
30 Ibid.
31 TCHRD, online news brief, October 13, 2005. http://www.tchrd.org/press/2005/nb20051013.html
32 Chow Chung-yan, “Fresh Tibetan riots erupt in Sichuan,” South China Morning Post in English, April 7, 2008.
33Annual Report on International Religious Freedom for 1999: Tibet,” September 9, 1999.

exhibited in museums. While similar problems are occurring with artifacts all over China, the
issue in Tibet is particularly sensitive given the Dalai Lama’s and the exile community’s fears
about the continuing disappearance of Tibetan culture.
Chinese government policies on economic development in Tibet appear to have helped raise the
living standards of Tibet generally, but some would argue at a high cost to Tibet’s traditions and
cultural identity. These policies reportedly have disrupted traditional living patterns and
contributed to tensions between Tibetans and Chinese immigrants. In an apparent effort to
assuage Tibetan resentment, Beijing has spent substantial sums restoring Buddhist temples in
Tibet, the majority of which were destroyed by Chinese forces during the Cultural Revolution. At
a large conference conducted on Tibet in 1994, Chinese officials adopted plans to increase
economic activity in Tibet by 10 percent per year and continue substantial economic subsidies to
help Tibet’s less developed economy. Since then, the PRC has moved ahead with a number of
major economic development and infrastructure projects. Having provided such extended
economic assistance and development in Tibet with central government money, PRC officials
often seem perplexed at the simmering anger many Tibetans nevertheless retain against the
The Dalai Lama and other Tibetans have a number of concerns about PRC economic
development activities in Tibet. At the top of this list is concern that this economic development
primarily is benefitting not Tibetans, but Han Chinese, many of whom are imported to Tibet to
work on the major infrastructure projects now underway, such as the opening of a new Tibet
railway linking Lhasa to the rest of China. As a result, this economic activity is disrupting Tibet’s
cultural identity, in part by encouraging large migrations of non-Tibetans into the region—both
technical personnel to work on the projects themselves, and entrepreneurs seeking new economic
opportunities. Some in the exile community have even suggested that Beijing has consciously
pursued an economic development strategy in Tibet as a way to “solve” its Tibet problem—by
ensuring that the Tibetan economy is tied more tightly into that of China’s eastern provinces. The
tensions inherent in balancing the beneficial aspects of economic development with the
imperatives of cultural preservation is one of the key points of concern to some Members of
Many observers feel the PRC would be better served by pursuing a more enlightened policy
toward its ethnic populations—one less paternalistic, with room for diversity, and one that
accommodates justifiable cultural and ethnic pride among ethnic populations without forcing
these groups to see themselves solely through a Chinese lens. But despite provisions for religious
freedom in the PRC constitution, Chinese leaders in the past have been extremely reluctant to
allow robust religious, cultural, and political freedom among ethnic populations in China like the
Tibetans or the Uighurs, in neighboring Xinjiang Province. Beijing appears to equate such
divergence from Chinese norms as highly threatening to social stability. Observers also point out
that PRC unwillingness to address Tibetan requests for greater autonomy have additional
implications for China’s policy toward Taiwan, whose population already is wary of how reliable
PRC promises are.

Since her appointment as Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs in May
2001, Paula Dobriansky also has served as the U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibet. One of the
responsibilities of this position is to encourage negotiations and other contacts between the PRC
Government and the Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile. Under the Tibetan Policy Act of 2002
(Section 613 of P.L. 107-228), the Coordinator is to issue an annual report on her office’s
activities and on the status of any Sino-Tibetan negotiations. Despite other reports of negative
developments in Tibet (discussed elsewhere in this report), the most recent report submitted by
Under Secretary Dobriansky, dated June 2007, found grounds for limited optimism on Sino-34
Tibetan contacts, but raised questions about whether the momentum could be sustained.
In addition to this report, the Under Secretary’s office is responsible for submitting the annual
State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices, mandated by Sections 116(d) and
502(B)(b) of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961. The section on China specifically includes
separate accounts for Tibet, Hong Kong, and Macau. While the latest report (released in March
2008) judged the PRC government’s human rights record in Tibet to remain poor, it found the
same limited grounds for optimism on Sino-Tibetan contacts as did the latest Tibet negotiations 35
report cited above.
Grounds for optimism in Sino-Tibetan talks were raised slightly by a number of developments
after 2002-2003, including six rounds of negotiations between PRC officials and representatives
of the Dalai Lama. For instance, in 2002, the Dalai Lama’s older brother, Gyalo Thondup,
accepted a PRC invitation to spend several weeks in Tibet on a private visit. The PRC
government also invited to China and to Lhasa (Tibet’s capital) delegations from the Tibetan 36
community led by the Dalai Lama’s special envoy in the United States, Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari.
Some observers have credited Beijing for offering these unusually open initiatives.
Despite the slight progress noted in the State Department’s report, others are not as hopeful about
the likely outcome of these tentative ventures. The new SARA regulations requiring
governmental approval for reincarnation are but the latest potential hurdle. A report in 2004 by
two U.S.-based Tibetan scholars, for instance, suggested that the “experimentation” with direct
Sino-Tibetan contacts is tentative and not promising. The two authors also noted that China has
restructured some of its Tibetan policy-making institutions in ways that “have made Beijing’s 37
institutional management of Tibetan affairs more complex and considerably less predictable.” In
addition, China’s statements and actions to inhibit the Dalai Lama’s visits overseas in Brussels
and Australia in 2007 are seen to be more assertive than in previous years. Massive development
projects in Tibet, such as the new Qinghai-Tibet railroad that opened to service in the summer of
2006, have served to facilitate greater numbers of ethnic Chinese coming to Tibet. They are seen
as evidence that Sino-Tibetan dialogues are having little impact on mitigating the dangers that

34 The full text of the latest Report on Tibet Negotiations can be found at the following website: http://www.state.gov/p/
35 The full text of the latest State Department human rights report can be found at the following website:
36 Lodi Gyari gave a news conference about these talks at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on November 2,
37 Tashi Rabgey and Tseten Wangchuk Sharlho, Sino-Tibetan Dialogue in the Post-Mao Era: Lessons and Prospects,
East-West Center, 2005. For the full text of this report, see http://www.eastwestcenterwashington.org/Publications/

continued Chinese encroachment may have for Tibet’s cultural and spiritual identity or for its
fragile ecosystem.
With China set to host the 2008 Summer Olympics this August, Tibetan groups, like other interest
groups opposed to various PRC behaviors, see this as an excellent opportunity to put pressure on
leaders in Beijing to reform PRC policies. Upon its founding, the TPUM cited the opportunity
presented by the August 2008 Beijing Olympic Games as a primary reason for the formation of
the movement. Beijing has cited the launch of the TPUM as evidence that the Lhasa
demonstrations were not spontaneous but were planned and orchestrated.
In addition to organizing the march into Tibet from India (mentioned earlier in this report), the
TPUM organizations appear to be behind the organized demonstrations and protests along the
route of the Olympic torch relay as it makes its 130-day journey to China from Greece in the
coming months. Protests erupted in Paris and San Francisco in the first days of the relay, forcing
organizations to adjust the torch’s daily route. Some are especially concerned that China has
planned the torch relay to go through Tibet, including an ascent to the top of Mount Everest.
Speaking at a briefing for the Congressional Human Rights Caucus on April 4, 2008, the Dalai
Lama’s special envoy, Lodi Gyari, said China’s plans to have the Olympic torch carried through
Tibet was “deliberately provocative” in light of the March 2008 crackdown, and should be 38
cancelled. The PRC’s Tibet crackdown also has added to the calls for a boycott of either the
Beijing Olympics opening ceremony or the entire summer games.
Members of the 110th Congress have renewed calls for China to change its policies in Tibet. But
PRC policies in recent years, including the response of PRC authorities to the March 2008
demonstrations in Tibet and to the Dalai Lama’s “middle way” policy, suggest there is little room
to hope that Beijing will make significant changes. China appears to have calculated that it can
out-wait the 72-year-old Dalai Lama, and that the demise of this compelling personality will
result in the disintegration of the Tibetan movement. Many westerners, on the other hand, see the
Dalai Lama and his influence within the Tibetan community as the key to unlocking China’s
long-standing difficulties in Tibet. They see Beijing’s continued rejection of the Dalai Lama’s
“middle way” approach as having undercut his ability to influence younger, more militant
Tibetans who see his moderation as having brought nothing but opprobrium from Beijing. They
believe his absence would remove an important source of restraint on more ideological elements
in the Tibetan community.
Members of Congress for years have adopted measures to support the Tibetan cause, including
measures to emphasize U.S. resolve on fostering negotiations between Beijing and the Dalai
Lama. These efforts are catalogued in Appendix A of this report. Members who are seeking to 39
improve U.S. leverage on the Tibet issue now may wish to consider other options. These could

38China should drop Tibet torch-relay - Dalai Lama envoy, guardian.co.uk (Reuters), April 3, 2008.
39 The Congressional-Executive Commission on China, for one, has suggested numerous potential policy options on the
Tibet issue.

• A reassessment of the position of U.S. Special Coordinator on Tibet, to determine
whether more effective tools can be made available to the Coordinator, whose
mission is to try to foster Sino-Tibetan dialogue.
• An effort to obtain a detailed account of the 2008 protests, including access to
Tibet by independent observers, as the Dalai Lama has called for.
• A more determined effort to gain an official U.S. government presence in Lhasa,
ideally through establishing a consulate office there—perhaps facilitated by
offering an additional consulate office to the PRC on the U.S. mainland or in
Hawaii or Alaska.
• Increased pressure on Beijing to make substantive changes in its approach toward
ethnic minorities in China, perhaps by establishing a special dialogue mechanism
similar to other U.S.-China dialogues.

Tibetan history is notable in two particular respects. One is the extraordinarily pervasive
influence of Buddhism in all aspects of daily life. At one time, a sizeable number of Tibet’s male
population were monks and lamas, and eventually this ecclesiastical group became Tibet’s
temporal rulers as well as its spiritual leaders. The Dalai Lama, believed to be the reincarnation of
Tibet’s patron deity, is the highest and most revered among this ruling monastic theocracy.
The second noteworthy aspect of Tibetan history is the ambiguity and disagreement surrounding
Tibet’s long political relationship with China. Tibetans generally view Tibet as an historically
independent nation that had a close relationship with a succession of Chinese empires. A
succession of Chinese governments, on the other hand, have claimed that Tibet has been a 40
political and geographical part of China for many centuries. In 1949-1951, the newly
established communist government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) backed up this claim
by sending military troops to occupy Tibet. Since then, Tibet has been under active Beijing rule as
its westernmost province, Xizang (the Tibet Autonomous Region, or TAR).
One point of controversy between central government leaders in Beijing and many Tibetans
involves the validity of China’s legal and historical claim to Tibet. The PRC government claims
that Tibet officially has been part of China, both geographically and politically, for more than
seven hundred years. In support of Chinese sovereignty over Tibet, they point out that Chinese
rulers periodically stationed officials and troops in Tibet, at times chose Tibet’s rulers, and 41
occasionally militarily defended Tibet against outside aggressors. In contrast, the Tibetan
government-in-exile holds that Tibet was an independent nation before the PRC invaded in 1949-

40 Such claims have been made by previous Chinese dynasties, the Republic of China government under Chiang Kai-
shek (now the government on Taiwan), and the communist government of the Peoples Republic of China.
41 Grunfeld, A. Tom. The Making of Modern Tibet, United Kingdom, Zed Books Ltd., 1987. In his account of Tibet’s
history, for instance, Grunfeld asserts that Tibets regent on at least one occasion referred foreign representatives to
Beijing on matters involving trade with Tibet.

1950.42 They claim that Tibet for the most part conducted its own foreign affairs, chose its own
leaders, wielded formidable military power, and had a highly developed and unique culture. They
further point out that in 1913, after the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty and establishment of the
Chinese Republic, the Dalai Lama declared Tibet’s independence from China. Tibet’s long-
standing historical relationship with China, they say, was one of “priest-patron” rather than 43
subject-sovereign—in other words, a religious bond rather than a political one.
Competing claims about Tibet’s past are one of the apparent sticking points in progress on Sino-
Tibetan negotiations. While the Dalai Lama has stated many times that he is not seeking Tibetan
independence, he has claimed that Tibet once was independent. One of the PRC’s demands is that
the Dalai Lama acknowledge historical Chinese sovereignty over Tibet.
A second point of contention involves the boundaries of Tibet—the very definition of what
constitutes Tibet. Members of the Tibetan community consistently speak of “Tibet” in its larger
ethnographic and historical context, including not only the entire current area referred to on
Chinese maps as “Xizang,” or the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR), but also parts of the
Chinese provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, and Yunnan, which Tibetans claim as the former
Tibetan provinces of Kham and Amdo. Beijing defines Tibet as only the TAR, and when referring
to “Tibet” does not include those Tibetan autonomous prefectures and countries in other
provinces where there are heavy concentrations of ethnic Tibetans. The Dalai Lama’s Five Point
Peace Plan of 1987 proposes transforming the whole of Tibet into a “zone of peace,” including 44
these historical areas now in other PRC provinces. Beijing’s objection to this is another apparent
obstacle in Sino-Tibetan negotiations.
Since 1959, the Tibetan government-in-exile has lived in India with the permission of the Indian
government. In addition to the commonality of a strong Buddhist tradition, Tibet’s complicated th
political involvement with India dates back at least to the 19 century when India was under
British rule. Tibetan-Indian religious connections continued after military troops of the People’s
Republic of China (PRC) marched into Tibet on October 7, 1950—an event which brought a
protest from the government of India to Beijing and a subsequent Tibetan request for India’s help
in resisting the PRC troops. Officials in India tried to balance the political goal of peaceful
relations with China with the imperatives of what then-Indian President Rajendra Prasad called 45
Tibet’s “close cultural and other ties with us [India] for ages past.”

42 Such views have been stated by the Dalai Lama himself. See the Dalai Lama’s Five Point Peace Plan, in his address
to the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus, September 21, 1987. http://www.dalailama.com/page.121.htm
43 Disagreement exists about how this independence declaration was perceived by other countries at the time. See van
Walt van Praag, Michael C., The Status of Tibet, Westview Press, 1987, pp. 138-141, for a view arguing that other
countries treated Tibet after 1913 as an independent country; see Rubin, Alfred P., Review of the McMahon Line,” The
American Journal of International Law, #61, 1967, p. 828, for a view arguing that other countries did not officially
recognize Tibetan independence after 1913.
44 See Five Point Peace Plan text, http://www.dalailama.com/page.121.htm.
45 Garver, John W., Protracted Contest: Sino-Indian Rivalry in the Twentieth Century, University of Washington Press,
May 2001, p. 40.

In 1956, at the invitation of the Mahabodhi Society of India, the Dalai Lama went to India to
attend an important Buddhist festival. According to his own account, the Dalai Lama met with
Prime Minister Nehru during that visit and said that he believed he should stay in India and not
return to Tibet. Both Prime Minister Nehru and PRC Premier Zhou Enlai, who also was visiting
India at the time, advised the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet. He did so. Three years later, in March

1959, PRC troops, acting to forcibly put down demonstrations in Tibet against Chinese rule,

began shelling the Dalai Lama’s summer palace in Lhasa, the Norbulingka, eventually destroying
it. But prior to these PRC military operations, on March 17, 1959, at the age of 24, the Dalai
Lama had left his palace in disguise and had fled toward India with a group of his followers.
There he requested political asylum for himself and his attendants. India’s Prime Minister Nehru
granted the request for asylum, and tens of thousands of Tibetans since then have joined the Dalai 46
Lama in exile.
For years reports have claimed that third parties were involved in the 1950s dispute and
confrontation between the Tibetans and the Chinese Communist government—in particular India,
the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), and the Kuomintang (KMT) Party of Chiang Kai-
shek in Taiwan. According to one source, CIA involvement began in the mid-1950s, proximate to
the Dalai Lama’s visit to India and his subsequent return to Tibet. There have been unconfirmed
reports, for instance, that in the 1950s the CIA trained Tibetan rebels at Camp Hale, Colorado;
that at least one CIA-trained operative accompanied the Dalai Lama on his 1959 flight to India;
and that this operative was in constant radio touch with the CIA station in Dacca, India, which
then conducted air-drops to supply the Dalai Lama’s entourage. The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan 47
exile community have denied third party involvement.
Much of the PRC’s tenure in Tibet has been troubled, particularly during the tumultuous Cultural
Revolution (1966-1976) when most monasteries, palaces, and other aspects of Tibetan Buddhism
and culture were either damaged or destroyed. The International Campaign for Tibet claims that 48
over 1 million Tibetans died during the first 30 years of PRC rule. Beijing refutes this, claiming
that the material life and health of Tibetans in Tibet has greatly improved under PRC governance.

Tibet became a recurring issue in congressional consideration of matters relating to China in the
late 1980’s. A number of factors have contributed to Members’ greater interest. These include the
Dalai Lama’s and the Tibetan community’s ongoing political activities; reports of human rights
abuses and China’s continuing repressive social and political controls in Tibet; and the lack of
consensus among U.S. policymakers over what U.S. policy should be toward China. On matters
involving Tibet—as on many matters involving China—congressional views have often been at
odds with those of the White House. As a matter of official policy, the U.S. government

46 Dalai Lama, My Land and My People, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1962.
47 See, for instance, A. Tom Grunfeld’s discussion of alleged CIA and Indian involvement in The Making of Modern
Tibet, M. E. Sharpe Inc., 1987, pp. 149-160; David Wise, The Politics of Lying: Government Deception, Secrecy, and
Power, Vintage Books, 1973; Kenneth Conboy and James Morrison, The CIAs Secret War in Tibet, University Press
of Kansas, April 2002.
48 There are varying estimates for how many Tibetans may have died as a direct consequence of Chinese rule. The
figure of 1.2 million is the figure generally used by the Tibetan government-in-exile. Warren W. Smith, author of The
Tibetan Nation (p. 607) calculates that the number of deaths is closer to 600,000.

recognizes Tibet as part of China and has always done so, although some dispute the historical 49
consistency of this U.S. position. Since normalization of relations with the PRC in 1979, a
succession of both Republican and Democratic U.S. Administrations have favored policies of
engagement with China. In the process, they frequently have sought to minimize areas of
potential tension with Beijing where Chinese leaders have taken strong positions, such as on the
question of Tibet’s political status.
The Dalai Lama himself has been the most charismatic and renowned advocate for the Tibetan 50
people over the past decade. He has a number of supporters in the U.S. Congress. The Dalai
Lama’s and his exiled community’s efforts to gain international support for Tibet’s cause took a
major step forward in 1986-1987, when a series of meetings between Tibetan and Western
supporters in New York, Washington, and London launched what has become known as Tibet’s 51
“international campaign.” The goal of this campaign was to garner Western and principally U.S.
support for Tibet’s situation, and ultimately to bring this international pressure to bear on Beijing
to make satisfactory political concessions. As part of this new strategy, the U.S. Congress in 1987
began to put pressure on the White House to protect Tibetan culture and accord Tibet greater
status in U.S. law, despite Beijing’s strong objections.
Two events of particular importance occurred in 1987. First, on September 21, the Dalai Lama
made his first political speech in the United States, at the invitation of the Congressional Human
Rights Caucus. In that speech, the Dalai Lama made a five-point proposal for resolving the Tibet
question that was well-received in the United States and had significant consequences on 52
congressional attitudes toward Tibet. Second, Congress put non-binding measures into place in

1987 declaring that the United States should make Tibet’s situation a higher policy priority and 53

should urge China to establish a constructive dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

49 Some assert that past U.S. actions that treated Tibet as if it were an independent state in effect signaled U.S.
recognition. Michael C. van Walt van Praag, for instance, in The Status of Tibet: History, Rights, and Prospects in
International Law (Westview Press, Boulder Colorado, 1987), states thatWashington supported Tibet and treated it as
an independent State, even recognizing its de facto (italics included) independence. p. 139. In the daily press briefing
of October 8, 1987, responding to a question concerning what year the United States formally recognized Tibet as a
part of China, the State Department’s Public Affairs office issued the following statement: “We have never recognized
Tibet as a sovereign state independent of China. We first made the statement that we considered Tibet to be a part of
China in 1978; however, our earlier formulations were not inconsistent with the statement, and we have never
challenged China’s claim. No third country recognizes Tibet as a state independent of China.
50 These have included Representatives Ben Gilman, Tom Lantos, Dana Rohrabacher, Charlie Rose, and Nancy Pelosi,
and Senators Dianne Feinstein and Claiborne Pell.
51 These three cities are all still centers for Tibet-related offices and information networks. According to Dr. Melvyn
Goldstein, professor of anthropology at Case Western Reserve University, the details of how theinternational
campaign strategy was formed have not yet been documented. Goldstein, Melvyn, The Snow Lion and the Dragon:
China, Tibet, and the Dalai Lama, University of California Press, 1997. pp. 76 and 138.
52 The five points are: transformation of all Tibet into a zone of peace; halting the transfer of large numbers of Han
Chinese into Tibet; respect for Tibet’s human rights and democratic freedoms; restoration of Tibet’s environment and
the halting of nuclear waste dumping in Tibet; and commencement of Sino-Tibetan negotiations on the future status of
53 President Reagan signed into law H.R. 1777, the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of FY88-89, on December 22,
1987 (P.L. 100-204); section 1243 contains language on Tibet. In 1985, 91 Members of Congress reportedly had also
sent a letter to China’s President, Li Xiannian, expressing support for continued talks with the Dalai Lama.

This language, though not the first that Congress had passed regarding Tibet,54 marked the 55
beginning of a significant increase in congressional activity on Tibet’s status. From this point
on, congressional supporters sought to mention Tibet separately whenever possible in legislation
relating to China. In 1990, in considering foreign relations authorization legislation that contained
the so-called “Tiananmen sanctions,” Congress singled out Tibet for special mention in sense-of-
Congress language that closely resembled the “five points” the Dalai Lama had proposed two
years earlier and, in the same legislation, mandated the Voice of America to begin broadcasts in 56
the Tibetan language. In 1994, Congress enacted a number of Tibetan-related provisions in the
Foreign Relations Authorization Act of FY1994-1995, including:
• a provision mandating that Tibet be listed separately in the State Department’s
annual report, “Country Reports on Human Rights”; and
• a provision mandating the State Department to issue a report on the “state of
relations between U.S. and those recognized by Congress as the true
representatives of the Tibetan people; the Dalai Lama, his representatives, and 57
the Tibetan Government in exile, and on conditions in Tibet.”
Congressional efforts to raise the profile of Tibet since 1986 have been resisted or mitigated by
successive U.S. Administrations, but generally in a low profile, non-confrontational manner. As
early as 1986, when Congress passed legislation authorizing Export-Import Bank funding that 58
listed Tibet as a separate country, President Reagan signed the legislation into law. In his
remarks, however, the President said:
I note that Tibet is listed as a country in section 8. The United States recognizes Tibet as part
of the People’s Republic of China. I interpret Tibet’s inclusion as a separate country to be a 59
technical oversight.
In other respects, however, consistent congressional pressure has contributed to U.S.
Administrations acknowledging, however subtly, the position of the Tibetan community-in-exile.
Thus, President George Bush in 1991 became the first U.S. President to meet with the Dalai
Lama, while President Bill Clinton met with the Dalai Lama several times in casual “drop-by”
meetings. Although these meetings were deliberately low-key and informal, they nevertheless
offended Chinese leaders, as did the Clinton Administration’s decision, after having opposed the
Special Envoy position for four years, to compromise by establishing the position of Special
Coordinator for Tibet.

54 Congress considered a number of non-binding measures in the 1980s concerning Tibet. In 1986, Congress listed
Tibet as an independent country in H.R. 5548, legislation dealing the Export-Import Bank. This bill was approved on
October 15, and became P.L. 99-472.
55 According to a legislative database, in the four years prior to 1987, only 6 measures had been introduced in Congress
concerning Tibet, whereas the 1987 legislation was one of 14 measures introduced in 1987-1988. http://thomas.loc.gov
56 This bill, H.R. 3792, was enacted as P.L. 101-246, and contains theTiananmen sanctions” on China that are still
largely in effect. Its provisions on Tibet stated that U.S. policy toward China should be explicitly linked with the
situation in Tibet, specifically to include lifting of martial law in Lhasa and other parts of Tibet; opening Tibet to
foreigners, including the press and international human rights organizations; release of political prisoners; and conduct
of negotiations between representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government.
57 Established pursuant to Section 536 of the Foreign Relations Authorizations Act, H.R. 2333, enacted as P.L. 103-
58 H.R. 5548 was approved on October 15, 1986, and became P.L. 99-472.
59Statement on Signing the Export-Import Bank Act Amendments of 1986,” October 15, 1986, in Public Papers of
the Presidents of the United States: Ronald Reagan, Book II, June 28 to December 31, 1986, pp. 1390-1391.

During the early years of the Clinton Administration, Congress began considering measures to
establish the position of a U.S. Special Envoy for Tibet, with ambassadorial rank. In introducing
such a measure in 1994, Senator Claiborne Pell stated he believed it was necessary to further
focus White House attention on issues involving Tibet:
I recall how difficult it was to engage previous administrations in serious, knowledgeable
discussions on Tibet.... A Special Envoy for Tibet would ensure that this important element
of United States-China relations was continually reflected in policy discussions on a senior 60
While legislation to create a Special Envoy for Tibet was never enacted, provisions similar to th
those in the 1994 legislation were also introduced as sections of authorization bills in the 104 th61
and the 105 Congresses. In each case, the provision called for the Special Envoy to have
ambassadorial rank and to actively promote negotiations between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese
government. Clinton Administration officials opposed these provisions, primarily because of
concerns about the creation of an ambassadorial rank position for an entity (Tibet) that the United
States recognizes as part of China rather than as an independent country in its own right.
On October 31, 1997, in a move seen as a compromise to appeal to proponents of the “Special
Envoy” position, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright designated a Special Coordinator for
Tibetan issues within the State Department and named Gregory Craig to serve in the position
concurrently with his job as Director of Policy Planning. Although the new Special Coordinator
position did not come with ambassadorial rank, its creation nevertheless suggested there would be th
a higher level of official attention on issues involving Tibet. Consequently, the 105 Congress 62
dropped the Special Envoy provision from subsequent legislation.
In 1990, in considering foreign relations authorization legislation that contained the so-called st
“Tiananmen sanctions,” the 101 Congress began a process of regular congressional provisions in 63
various pieces of legislation for U.S. assistance to Tibet. Such provisions, which may or may not
reflect actual assistance, have included:

60 Statement by Senator Pell, Congressional Record, October 7, 1994, p. S14878. Senator Pells bill, S. 2554, was not
enacted; nor was H.R. 5254, a similar bill introduced in the House on October 7, 1994, by Representative Howard
61 In the 104th Congress, that legislation was the American Overseas Interests Act of 1995 (H.R. 1561 [Gilman], and S.
908 [Helms]). President Clinton vetoed this legislation on April 12, 1996; the House override vote on April 30,1996 th
failed to achieve the two-thirds necessary for passage (234-188). Similar legislation in the 105 Congress, H.R. 1486,
was replaced by three separate bills after consideration by the House Rules Committee on June 3, 1997: H.R. 1757,
authorizing appropriations for the State Department for FY1998-1999 (and containing the Tibet Special Envoy
provision); H.R. 1758, the European Security Act (NATO enlargement); and H.R. 1759, a foreign aid authorization and
reform bill. The Special Envoy provision was dropped from this separate legislation before final passage.
62 On January 20, 1999, the position of Special Coordinator for Tibet was assumed by Julia Taft, U.S. Assistant
Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration. She stepped down on January 19, 2001. On May 17, 2001,
Secretary of State Colin Powell announced that Paula Dobriansky, Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs, would
serve as the next Special Coordinator for Tibet.
63 This bill, H.R. 3792, was enacted as P.L. 101-246, and contains theTiananmen sanctions” on China that are still
largely in effect. Its provisions on Tibet stated that U.S. policy toward China should be explicitly linked with the

• Provision for Voice of America broadcasts (and later, Radio Free Asia broadcasts)
to Tibet in the Tibetan language; and periodic provisions for 30 scholarships for
Tibetans living outside Tibet (P.L. 101-246, P.L. 106-113);
• Establishment of an educational and cultural exchange program with Tibet (in
P.L. 104-319), later renamed the “Ngawang Choepel Exchange Program” (in P.L. 64

106-113), funded at $500,000 in each of fiscal years 2000, 2001, and 2003;

• Authorized and/or appropriated funds for humanitarian, food, medical, and other
assistance to Tibetans who have fled from China to Nepal and India, amounting
to $2 million in each of fiscal years 2001 and 2002 (P.L. 106-113) and $2 million
in FY2003 (P.L. 107-228); and
• Economic Support Fund (ESF) assistance for non-governmental organizations
who work to support and preserve the Tibetan environment and cultural traditions
and to promote sustainable development. ESF funds for these purposes were first
provided at $1 million in FY2000 (P.L. 106-113), averaged $4 million per year th
through FY2006 (P.L. 109-102), and in the 110 Congress were provided at $5
million (P.L. 110-161).
Much of the U.S. assistance program to Tibet is a result of congressional earmarks in such
legislation. (See Appendix A) Apart from financial assistance measures, Congress’ other major
policy initiative on Tibet has been the “Tibetan Policy Act of 2002,” enacted as part of the
Foreign Relations Authorization Act of FY2003 (P.L. 107-228). Major provisions of that act
include the creation of a U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues within the Department of
State whose central objective is to encourage and promote dialogue between the Dalai Lama and
the government in Beijing; and a specific declaration of U.S. policy objectives on Tibet, including
economic, cultural, and environmental support objectives; release of political prisoners in Tibet;
establishment of a State Department office in Lhasa; and an effort to ascertain the whereabouts th
and well-being of the 11 Panchen Lama.
In 2006, the 109th Congress passed legislation to award the Dalai Lama a Congressional Gold 65
Medal in recognition of his international status and accomplishments. The decision reportedly
was denounced by Beijing as a move that “seriously interferes with China’s internal affairs and 66
damages U.S.-China relations.” With President Bush in attendance, a move that further raised

situation in Tibet, specifically to include lifting of martial law in Lhasa and other parts of Tibet; opening Tibet to
foreigners, including the press and international human rights organizations; release of political prisoners; and the
conduct of negotiations between representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government.
64 In legislation for FY2006 (H.R. 3057, the Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Appropriations Act,
2006, which eventually became P.L. 109-102), the House Report (H.Rept. 109-152) recommended $2 million for
Tibetan refugees in Nepal and India, and the Senate Report (S.Rept. 109-96) recommended $500,000 for theTibetan
Fulbright” program; neither provision made it into the final conference report.
65 S. 2784,the Fourteenth Dalai Lama Congressional Gold Medal Act,” was introduced by Senator Dianne Feinstein
and became P.L. 109-287 on September 27, 2006. Similar legislation, H.R. 4562 (not acted upon) was introduced in the
House by Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
66President Bush signs into law proposal to honor Dalai Lama with medal despite Chinese objections, International
Herald Tribune, September 27, 2006.

the profile of the event, the Dalai Lama was awarded the medal in a ceremony on October 17,

2007, in the Capitol Rotunda.

Members of the 110th Congress responded to the March 2008 Tibet demonstrations in several
ways. The demonstrations and the PRC crackdown in response has prompted some Members to
call for either a complete U.S. boycott of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing or a boycott of the 67
opening ceremony to the games. Senator Patrick Leahy called the violent actions of both the 68
PRC security forces and the Tibetan demonstrators “deplorable.” The demonstrations prompted
two Members of the House to announce the formation of the Tibet Caucus to represent the rights 69
of Tibetans and the Dalai Lama’s government-in-exile. Other Members have introduced
legislation, including:
• H.R. 5668, the Communist Chinese Olympic Accountability Act (McCotter). To
prohibit Federal Government officials from attending the opening ceremonies of
the Olympic Games in Beijing because of the crackdown in Tibet, relations with
Sudan, and other PRC actions. Introduced April 1, 2008.
• H.Res. 1075 (Smith), condemning the Chinese government’s violence against
Tibetan protestors and urging Beijing to enter into dialogue with the Dalai Lama.
Introduced April 3, 2008.
• H.Res. 1077 (Pelosi), calling on China to end its crackdown in Tibet, enter into
dialogue with the Dalai Lama, and protect the language, culture, and religious
freedom of Tibetans. Introduced April 3, 2008. Considered on the suspense
calendar on April 8-9, 2008. The House passed it by 413-1 on April 9, 2008.

67 Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is among those who have suggested that President George W. Bush consider
boycotting the opening ceremony of the games because of the PRC crackdown in Tibet. (“Pelosi calls on Bush to
boycott Olympic opening ceremonies,” CNN.com/asia, April 1, 2008.) Senator Hillary Clinton made the same
suggestion on April 7, 2008. (Clinton calls on Bush to boycott Olympic opening ceremony, ABC News, April 7,
68 Senator Patrick Leahy, “Repression in Tibet,Congressional Record, April 2, 2008, p. S2337.
69 Dear Colleague letter, “Support His Holiness, the Dalai Lama: Join Newly Formed Tibet Caucus,” Rep. Dana
Rohrabacher and Rep. Neil Abercrombie, March 31, 2008.

110th Congress (2007-2008)

P.L. 110-161—Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2008.
Section 638 (c)1: requires U.S. representatives at international financial institutions to support
those projects in Tibet that do not provide incentives for non-Tibetan immigration into Tibet or
facilitate transfer of Tibetan land and resources to non-Tibetans; (2) provides not less than $5
million in ESF funds to NGOs supporting cultural traditions, sustainable development, and
environmental protection in Tibet; (3) specifies that not less than $250,000 be made available to
the National Endowment for Democracy for human rights and democracy programs in Tibet.

109th Congress (2005-2006)

P.L. 109-102—Foreign Ops, Export Financing, and Related Programs Act, FY2006.
Section 575 (a): Same international institutions instructions provisions as above; (b) provided not
less than $4 million in ESF funds to NGOs supporting cultural traditions, sustainable
development, and environmental protection in Tibet; and specified that not less than $250,000 be
made available to the National Endowment for Democracy for human rights and democracy
programs in Tibet.

108th Congress (2003-2004)

P.L. 108-447—Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2005
Section 581 (a) Same international institutions instructions provisions as above; (b) provided not
less than $4 million in ESF funds to NGOs supporting cultural traditions, sustainable
development, and environmental protection in Tibet; and specified that not less than $250,000 be
made available to the National Endowment for Democracy for human rights and democracy
programs in Tibet.
P.L. 108-199—Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2004
Section 558 (a) Same international institutions instructions provisions as above; (b) provided not
less than $4 million in ESF funds to NGOs supporting cultural traditions, sustainable
development, and environmental protection in Tibet.
P.L. 108-7—Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2003
Section 526 (a) provided not less than $15 million for democracy, human rights, and rule of law
in China, Hong Kong, and Tibet, of which up to $3 million could be made available to NGOs
supporting sustainable development in Tibet and preserve cultural traditions in Tibet and other
Tibetan communities in China.

107th Congress (2001-2002)

P.L. 107-228—Foreign Relations Authorization Act, FY2003

Section 112 (1)B(ii)—Provided $500,000 for FY2003 for the “Ngawang Choepel Exchange
Programs” between the United States and Tibet (established in P.L. 104-319).
Section 115 (c)—Provided $ 2 million for humanitarian, food, medicine, clothing, and medical
and vocational training assistance in FY2003 for Tibetan refugees in India and Nepal who have
fled Chinese-occupied Tibet.
Section 222—Extended for FY2003 the Tibetan scholarship program established in P.L. 104-319.
Title VI, Subtitle B—Contained The Tibetan Policy Act of 2002, which declared U.S. policy
goals; required annual reports on Tibet; established the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Affairs;
and beefed up Tibetan language training at the Department of State.
P.L. 107-115—Foreign Ops, Export Financing, and Related Appropriations, FY2002
Section 526(a)—Provided not less than $10 million for democracy, human rights, and rule of law
programs in China, of which up to $3 million could be made available to NGOs outside China
that support sustainable development in Tibet and preserve cultural traditions in Tibet and other
Tibetan communities in China.

106th Congress (1999-2000)

P.L. 106-429—Foreign Operations, Export Financing, and Related Programs Appropriations Act,
Section 526—Provided up to $2 million ESF funds for NGOs located outside China that work to
support and preserve Tibetan cultural traditions, environmental conservation, and promote
sustainable development in that country.
P.L. 106-113—Consolidated Appropriations Act, FY2000
Provided $1 million in ESF funds for NGOs located outside China to support and preserve
Tibetan cultural traditions, environmental conservation, and promote sustainable development in
Tibetan communities in China.
Section 103 (a) (2)—Provided $2 million in each of FY2000 and FY2001 for humanitarian
assistance, food, medicine, clothing, and supplies to Tibetan refugees in Nepal and India who
have fled Chinese-occupied Tibet.
Title IV, Subtitle A, Section 401(a)—Changed the name of U.S.-Tibetan educational exchanges to
the “Ngawang Choepel Exchange Program”: provides $500,000 in FY2000 and FY2001 for these
exchanges (b) extends for FY2000 the U.S. scholarship program for Tibetan and Burmese
scholars and students (established in P.L. 104-319).

105th Congress (1997-1998)

P.L. 105-261—Strom Thurmond National Defense Authorization Act, FY1999
Section 3901—Provided sense of Congress that a significant amount of $22 million appropriated
for Radio Free Asia be directed toward broadcasting in China and Tibet in the appropriate
languages and dialects.

104th Congress (1995-1996)

P.L. 104-319—Human Rights, Refugee, and other Foreign Relations Provisions Act of 1996
Section 103(a)—Established a program for Educational and Cultural Exchanges for Tibetans.
Section 103(b)—Provided for 30 scholarships for Tibetan students and professional outside of
Tibet for FY1997.

103rd Congress (1993-1994)

P.L. 103-236—Foreign Relations Authorization Act, FY1994-FY1995
Sec. 221(a)—Provided that the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) should seek to establish an
office in Lhasa.
Sec. 236—Provided for educational & cultural exchanges with Tibet.
Sec. 309—Established Radio Free Asia (RFA) and provided grants for RFA broadcasts to Asian
countries, specifically including Tibet.
Sec. 536—Established annual reporting requirements on “occupied Tibet”; stated the sense of
Congress that reports on Tibet should be separate from reports on China; stated the sense of
Congress that the United States should establish dialogue with the Dalai Lama and Tibetans in

102nd Congress (1991-1992)

P.L. 102-138—Foreign Relations Authorization Act, FY1992-FY1993
Sec. 355: China’s Illegal Control of Tibet
Established the sense of Congress that Tibet, including those areas incorporated into the Chinese
provinces of Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu, and Qinghai, is an occupied country under the established
principles of international law; that Tibet’s true representatives are the Dalai Lama and the
Tibetan Government-in-exile; that throughout its history Tibet has maintained a distinctive and
sovereign national, cultural, religious, and territorial identity except for periods of illegal Chinese
occupation, has maintained a separate and sovereign political and territorial identity; and
Congress’ sense that the United States, Mongolia, Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal, India, Japan, Great
Britain, and Russia recognized Tibet as an independent nation or dealt with Tibet independently
of any Chinese government; and that the PRC in 1949-1950 launched an armed invasion of Tibet
in contravention of international law. The measure also stated that “numerous United States
declarations since the Chinese invasion have recognized Tibet’s right to self-determination and
the illegality of China’s occupation of Tibet.”

International Religious Freedom Report, China (annual report)
Most recent date available: September 14, 2007
Agency: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Legislative authority: P.L. 105-292, the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998,
Section 102(b)
Full text: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2007/
Reports on Human Rights Practices, China (annual report)
Most recent date available: March 11, 2008
Agency: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Legislative authority: The Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 (FAA), as amended, Sections 116(d)
and 502(b); and the Trade Act of 1974, as amended, Section 504
Full text: http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/index.htm
Report on Tibet Negotiations (annual report)
Most recent date available: June 2007
Agency: U.S. Department of State, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs
Legislative Authority: P.L. 107-228, Foreign Relations Authorization Act, 2003, Section 613
Full text: http://www.state.gov/p/eap/rls/rpt/2007/88157.htm
Congressional-Executive Commission Report (annual report)
Most recent date available: October 10, 2007
Agency: Congressional-Executive Commission on China
Legislative Authority: P.L. 106-286, Normal Trade Relations with the People’s Republic of
China, 2000
Full text: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/
ge tdoc.cgi ?dbname=110_house_hearings &docid=f:38026.pdf

Kerry Dumbaugh
Specialist in Asian Affairs
kdumbaugh@crs.loc.gov, 7-7683