The House of Representatives has approved legislation calling for the establishment of a Tibet section in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
The legislation [Foreign Relations Authorization Act, Fiscal Years 2010 and 2011], which was passed Wednesday, authorizes the Secretary of State to establish the Tibet section within the Embassy to follow political, economic, and social developments inside Tibet and other Tibetan areas in China.
It says that the office will monitor Tibetan affairs from Beijing until a consulate is established in Tibet's capital, Lhasa. The U.S. has previously passed funding for the establishment of a consulate in Tibet, which is dependent on approval from the Chinese government, but the move to establish a Tibetan section in Beijng is new.
The legislation also seeks tighter coordination of U.S. policy on Tibet and for the appointment of a special coordinator for Tibetan issues.
Tibet has long been a touchy subject for Beijing and Washington. In March, on the 50th anniversary of a Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule, the U.S. government accused Beijing of harming Tibetan religion, culture and livelihoods.
China says that under its rule Tibet had become a "paradise on earth."
The U.S. frequently urges China to open up dialogue with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader - the Dalai Lama.
Chinese officials say that talks with the Dalai Lama will only make progress when he stops campaigning for Tibetan independence.
The Dalai Lama denies seeking independence and says that what he wants for Tibet is greater autonomy for Tibet.
China seized control of Tibet in 1951.