The 2020 Democratic National Committee platform removed a condemnation of Chinese human-rights violations in Tibet that appeared in the 2016 version of the document.
The 92-page platform makes human rights a large feature of Democratic foreign policy. "Democrats believe that the fight for universal values should start at home, but it can’t end there," it reads. "Global democratic backsliding and the erosion of human rights put our interests and values at risk."
But the party's Asia-Pacific platform is silent on the Tibet issue, despite a commitment in the 2016 platform to "promote greater respect for human rights, including the rights of Tibetans." For decades, China has silenced and imprisoned Tibetan Buddhists. This year, Freedom House ranked Tibet the third-least free country in the world, ranking autocracies such as North Korea, Iran, and Russia below it.
On-the-ground conditions in Tibet are dire. Since annexing the territory in 1951, Beijing has worked toward destroying Tibetan language, culture, and religion. Since 2009, over 150 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest of China’s draconian rule.
While the ongoing Uighur genocide has grabbed headlines in recent months, lawmakers in Washington have been responsive to human rights in Tibet as well. The 2016 RNC platform—which the party has carried over to 2020—included a plank on Tibet.
"[C]ultural genocide continues in Tibet and Xinjiang, the promised autonomy of Hong Kong is eroded, the currency is manipulated, our technology is stolen, and intellectual property and copyrights are mocked in an economy based on piracy," the RNC platform reads.
Even further, Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) and Rep. Chris Smith (R., N.J.) have led a charge to pass the Tibetan Policy and Support Act, which would strengthen American efforts against persecution in the country. China’s July closure of an American consulate in Chengdu—an outpost for America to monitor abuses in Tibet—hinders opposition to the regime's oppression of Tibet.
Multiple Republican congressmen voiced their frustration with the DNC’s silence to the Washington Free Beacon.
"The Chinese Communist Party’s human-rights violations in Tibet are well-documented and appalling, and no American leader should be complicit in the CCP’s attempts to erase Tibet from our collective memory," Rep. Michael McCaul (R., Tex.), chair of the China Task Force and ranking member on the House Foreign Relations Committee, said.
"Just as the Democrats refused to hold the CCP accountable for the significant role they played in the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s disappointing to see Tibet removed from their party platform," McCaul added. "The CCP is the greatest threat of our time, and confronting their malign behavior should be a bipartisan foreign policy priority."
Reps. Ted Yoho (R., Fla.) and Guy Reschenthaler (R., Pa.) shared such concerns.
"The failure on the part of Democrats to highlight CCP aggressiveness, such as in the case of Tibet, is yet another example of how the current administration has led in holding Xi Jinping’s Communist leadership accountable while the other side plays catch-up," Yoho said. "Under President Trump, the United States has led the way in confronting China on unfair trade practices, the ethnic cleansing and torture of ethnic and religious minorities in Xinjiang, the violation of Hong Kong’s autonomous status, the threatening of Taiwan’s security, and more."
"It is not surprising that former vice president Joe Biden and his socialist allies in the Democrat Party refused to recognize the cultural genocide occurring in Tibet," Reschenthaler said. "China Joe and virtually all Democrats have vehemently refused to criticize the CCP for any of their human-rights abuses in China or their malign actions around the globe. Democrats’ silence is a dangerous appeasement of the CCP. "
Neither the Biden campaign nor the DNC returned requests for comment before press time.