The U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a bipartisan resolution urging China to improve human rights in Tibet.
The non-binding resolution called for substantive dialogue, without preconditions, in order to address Tibetan grievances and secure a negotiated agreement for the Tibetan people.
Both Republican and Democrat members of the House of Representatives came to the House floor to praise the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, for his contribution to the world and wished him a happy 80th birthday.
“To millions of believers and admirers, he is a source of wisdom and compassion,” Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said. “To young people, his holiness is a positive example of how to make the world a better place.”
She said, the Tibetan issue is a test to the conscience of the United States and the world.
“If freedom loving people don’t speak out against repression in Tibet, then we have lost all morale authority to speak out on behalf of human rights anywhere in the world,” she said.
Other Congressional leaders also called on the Chinese government to respect Tibetan culture and religion and to release all political prisoners.
Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said it’s time for the U.S. to stand up for people struggling for freedom and democracy.
“Knowing that’s what make us secure; nowhere is that more clear than Tibet,” he said. “The people of Tibet are not Chinese people who have just reunited by the Communist Chinese with the motherland in China; it’s been a distinct culture for centuries.”
The resolution also called on the U.S. government to establish an office in Lhasa, Tibet, to monitor political, economic and cultural developments in Tibet, and to provide consular protection and citizen services.
It urged the U.S. government to raise concerns over Tibetan human rights and political and religious freedom at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic dialogues and other high level bilateral meetings.
More than 130 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibetan areas of China since 2009 as part of a desperate protest against China's rule and repressive policies in Tibet. China says the suicide protests are acts of terrorism.
The Dalai Lama and the Chinese government last held talks in 2010. The Dalai Lama has said he is optimistic that Communist Party leader Xi Jinping, who came to power in 2012, could resume the negotiations.