BANGKOK, Thailand -- Tibet's government-in-exile cheered the U.S.
Senate's passage of an act demanding U.S. diplomats, journalists and
other Americans be allowed to freely visit Tibet, but Beijing warned
President Trump if he signs it into law, "China-U.S. ties and
cooperation in major areas" could suffer retaliation.

The Reciprocal Access To Tibet Act of 2018, now awaiting President
Trump's signature, includes preventing Chinese officials receiving
U.S. visas if they are involved in blocking Americans from Tibet.

"The Act interferes in China's domestic affairs with reckless
disregard for facts, and goes against the basic norms of international
relations," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang.

"We urge the U.S. administrative bodies to take immediate measures to
stop it being signed into law, so as to avoid impairing China-U.S.
ties and cooperation in major areas," Mr. Lu said in Beijing on
December 14.

China's retaliation may include denying some U.S. officials from
receiving visas to China, reported Beijing's Global Times.

The Senate passed the act on December 11 after the House of
Representatives' approval in September.

The Senate's passage of the act was "a triumph today for American
citizens, including lawmakers, activists and human rights advocates
concerned about the decades-long repression in Tibet," said Tibet's
government-in-exile, known as the Central Tibetan Administration
(CTA), based in Dharamsala, India.

" The Chinese government continues to violate the Tibetan people's
basic freedoms, arrests them for such crimes as celebrating the Dalai
Lama's birthday, tortures them for protesting peacefully and even
murders them if they try to flee into exile," the CTA said on December

"Hundreds of Tibetan prisoners of conscience are locked up in Chinese
prisons, where torture is endemic, and have no access to any
meaningful legal defense," it said.

"Countries should provide equal rights to one another's citizens,"
said the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) which
pushed the act's passage.

"Chinese citizens, journalists from state-sponsored propaganda
outlets, and bureaucrats of the Chinese Communist Party travel freely
throughout the U.S. and lobby the American government on Tibetan
issues," the ICT said in a December 11 statement.

"China invariably rejects applications from journalists, diplomats,
political leaders, and rights monitors unless they are officially
invited for strictly chaperoned tours to theatrically prepared sites,
or otherwise known for their unabashed support for its rule in Tibet,"
the Tibetan Review reported on December 16.

"Tibetan citizens of the United States are subjected to particularly
severe restrictions when applying for visas. The new legislation
particularly emphasizes access for these categories of visitors," said
the India-based Review which opposes China's "occupation" of Tibet.

" This bill requires the Department of State to report to Congress
annually, regarding the level of access Chinese authorities granted
U.S. diplomats, journalists and tourists to Tibetan areas in China," a
summary by the U.S. Congress said.

"No [Chinese] individual who is substantially involved in the
formulation or execution of policies related to access for foreigners
to Tibetan areas may enter the United States," if Americans are
blocked, Congress's summary said.

Opponents of China's 1959 seizure of Tibet say Beijing's current maps
show a truncated area described as the Autonomous Region of Tibet.

Other parts of Tibet's larger former territory have been given to
neighboring Chinese provinces.

But The Reciprocal Access To Tibet Act of 2018 includes the
dismembered "Tibet Autonomous areas in Sichuan, Qinghai, Yunnan, and
Gansu provinces."

Qinghai province, for example, includes the mountainous Amdo region
where the current 14th Dalai Lama was born or "reincarnated" into
poverty in isolated Takster village.

Chinese officials renovated his childhood home in Takster and
installed a CCTV security camera monitoring anyone who comes close,
according to a journalist who found the home's wooden gate locked
earlier this year. A sympathetic neighbor warned him to leave because
police could arrest foreign visitors.

The Dalai Lama, who said in a 2015 speech, "I am Marxist," travels the
world supporting Tibetan culture, Buddhism and human rights.

He resides in self-imposed exile in McLeod Ganj village in the
Himalayan mountains above Dharamsala, India, after fleeing Tibet in
1959 fearing imprisonment or execution by the Chinese.

China's wariness about allowing Americans unrestricted access into
Tibet may stem from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency's
multi-million dollar secretive guerrilla war in Tibet during the

Assisted by the CIA, Tibetans were trained in Colorado's Rocky
Mountains and parachuted into Tibet in a lost fight against the

"The goal was to keep the dream of a free Tibet alive while harassing
the [Chinese] Red Army in western China," wrote Pulitzer Prize-winner
Tim Weiner in his 2007 book "Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA."

The CIA also "paid an annual subsidy of some $180,000 directly to the
Dalai Lama, and it created Tibet Houses in New York and Geneva to
serve as his unofficial embassies," Mr. Weiner said.

In 1972, President Nixon abruptly stopped the CIA's assistance to
Tibetan guerrillas when he visited Beijing and shook hands with
then-Chinese Chairman Mao Zedong, paving the way to normalization in
relations in 1979.

Today in Tibet, "residents of both Chinese and Tibetan ethnicity are
denied fundamental rights, but the authorities are especially rigorous
in suppressing any signs of dissent among Tibetans, including
manifestations of uniquely Tibetan religious belief and cultural
identity," New York-based Freedom House said in its "Freedom in the
World 2018" report.

China's "policies encourage migration from other parts of China,
reducing the ethnic Tibetan share of the population," the report said.

"China's repression in Tibet includes keeping out those who can shine
a light on its human rights abuses against the Tibetan people,"
Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) said while sponsoring the act.

"We should not accept a double standard where Chinese officials can
freely visit the United States while at the same blocking our
diplomats, journalists and Tibetan-Americans from visiting Tibet," Mr.
Rubio said.

China insists it "liberated" Tibet from a repressive, feudal rule
dominated by Tibetan Buddhist lamas and wealthy nobles, and later
stopped Beijing's destructive policies against Tibet committed during
Mao's disastrous 1965-75 Cultural Revolution.

Tens of thousands of foreign and Chinese tourists visit Tibet each
year. Lhasa, the capital, has been modernized with an influx of
Chinese residents and linked to other cities with a high-speed train.

China also uses Tibet's high mountains as a strategic military
position against possible hostilities with India to the south. The two
countries fought a brief border war in 1962.