It’s been 69 years now since China ‘liberated’ Tibet. 69 years, and China still needs to maintain a rigid police and military presence in the region to keep a lid on dissent against what many Tibetans call Chinese occupation.
As with Taiwan, the South China Sea and other international sticking points, the Communist Party is highly sensitive when it comes to all matters Tibet. But in a sign that the US, under President Donald Trump, is increasingly willing to stand up to China’s sabre rattling, US Ambassador to China Terry Branstad is scheduled to visit Tibet this week.
The move comes amid escalating trade tensions between Washington and Beijing, in the first visit to the region by a US ambassador since 2015.
US standing strong amid Chinese tensions
It’s a rare occurrence for the US Ambassador to make a trip to the highly restricted area of Tibet. But it makes a nice little addition to the dominance of power we’ve already seen between the US and China of the South China Sea.
According to Reuters, late last year, the US passed a law which denies visas being awarded to Chinese officials that restrict access to Tibet for foreigners. This legislation was then denounced by China for getting involved in an internal affair.
They said the move risked causing ‘serious harm’ to their relations. However, it is due to come into effect by the end of this year.
A spokesperson for the US embassy has said they are confident that the upcoming visit will clear the air on longstanding issues on religious freedom and Tibetan culture and language. Whether China will be so quick to concede, we’re not so sure. Tibet is China in their eyes, always.
Trump yet to impose sanctions on officials
The US’ persistence for intervention is set to throw fuel on the already lit fire between the two global giants, and will only cease, China says, unless Washington folds. China’s senior diplomat Wang Yi has already warned US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of the repercussions for getting involved.
Despite the congressional calls to impose sanctions on China’s former Communist Party chief in Tibet, Chen Quanguo, for the mistreatment of the Muslim community in the Xinjiang region, Trump has not yet acted. Perhaps he is placing priority on the negotiations, using the sanctions as a backup threat if China refuses to bow.
However, only time will tell. The upcoming trip to Qinghai and Tibet will span over the course of this week, ending on Saturday. By then, we should see a development.
We will keep you informed as the story unfolds.
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