ON THE WEB, 21 December 2018
US President Donald Trump on Wednesday signed the Reciprocal Access To Tibet Act into law. According to the Act, China must allow American journalists, diplomats and tourists unrestricted access to Tibet. The State Department shall report to Congress annually, identifying Chinese officials who were substantially involved in the formulation or execution of policies to restrict the access of Americans to Tibetan areas. These officials will be denied entry into the US.
The logic sounds like a bluff: Why cannot Americans enjoy the right to freely go to Tibet in the same way Chinese are allowed unrestricted access to the US? If China restricts Americans, why can’t the US do the same thing?
Nonetheless, it is in fact a new US trick to intervene in China’s internal affairs. China has never tried to practice “long-arm jurisdiction,” while the US has always tried to influence China’s domestic policies.
The Act has a limited impact on Chinese officials engaged in Tibet-related affairs, in that access to the US is of little value to them. However, this is another precedent for the US to interfere in China’s affairs using a domestic law. Unlike the previous practice of accusations, the US now intends to engage in practical harassment actions toward China.
The US target is Tibet-related affairs this time. Next time it might be Xinjiang or other affairs in China. The Reciprocal Access To Tibet Act only prohibits related Chinese officials from entering the US. Future laws may be subject to additional sanctions.
After imposing sanctions on officials from certain countries, the US is now pointing at those from China. In response, China will certainly take corresponding retaliatory measures. But the long-term solution is China’s own development so as to balance demands for mutual exchange between the two sides. This is obviously a long process.
As Washington adds pressure to Tibet- and Xinjiang-related affairs, Beijing should try to gain its initiative in public opinion. The Reciprocal Access To Tibet Act was largely a US public opinion offensive, and Washington’s moral ground is feeble. Tibet’s situation tallies with the current governance, refuting the West’s stories on the region based on the Dalai clique.
China’s governance accords with both the rule of law and human rights. But the way China explains these issues is somewhat guarded due to all kinds of misgivings compared with the US and other Western countries, whose news reports are often aggressive. China, on the contrary, takes up a defensive position and avoids mistakes.
There is always intermittent or long-term turbulence in many developing countries’ ethnic areas where people are living in misery. It is an incredible achievement for China to maintain peace, economic stability and normal life in its ethnic regions. This is also the best protection for local people’s human rights. The US and other Western countries’ accusations are irresponsible and malicious fault-finding.
Almost all of the West’s solutions to developing countries’ ethnic and regional affairs failed, causing turbulence and casualties. Western countries definitely have no right to find fault with China. The dispute over China’s ethnic and regional affairs may continue between China and the US, and between China and some radical Western forces. For Chinese people who visit the US, there may be more risks in the future. The US is the first choice of many Chinese students who want to study abroad, but they need to be more cautious from now on.