Obama defies China and meets the Dalai Lama
[18 July 2011] US President Barack Obama met with the Dalai Lama on 16 July despite warnings from China. The meeting at the White House lasted for 45 minutes and included discussions about the current human rights situation in Tibet, the Dalai Lama's future role and the stalled dialogue between the Dalai Lama's representatives and the Chinese government. The meeting came at the end of the Dalai Lama's two-week trip to the USA.
Following the meeting, the Dalai Lama said that President Obama had shown "genuine concern about the suffering in Tibet" as well as "concern about basic human values, human rights [and] religious freedom". The Dalai Lama once again stressed he was seeking genuine autonomy for Tibet rather than independence and was commited to non-violence.
According to an official press statement from the White House, President Obama "reiterated his strong support for the preservation of the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions of Tibet... and underscored the importance of the protection of human rights of Tibetans in China." The President also asked the Dalai Lama to continue the dialogue between his envoys and the Chinese authorities and said "that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans".
The Chinese government issued warnings prior to the meeting calling on President Obama not to meet the Dalai Lama. Subsequently the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying the meeting had "grossly interfered in China's internal affairs, hurt the feelings of Chinese people and damaged the Sino-American relations". The statement continued, "We demand the US side to seriously consider China's stance, immediately adopt measures to wipe out the baneful impact, stop interfering in China's internal affairs and cease to connive and support anti-China separatist forces that seek 'Tibet independence'."
The People's Daily, the Chinese state-run newspaper, in an opinion piece, called the meeting an "unscrupulous trick of pragmatism", adding that it undermined the United State's status as a major world power.
During his two-week US trip, which included a series of Buddhist teachings and Kalachakra initiations, the Dalai Lama also met with a number of US politicians including Senator John Kerry and members of the Senate Foreign Relations Commitee.
Further reading: BBC I Radio Free Asia I People's Daily (in Xinhua)
Official Statement from The White House:
16 July 2011: Statement from the Press Secretary on the President’s Meeting with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama
The President met this morning at the White House with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. The President reiterated his strong support for the preservation of the unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions of Tibet and the Tibetan people throughout the world. He underscored the importance of the protection of human rights of Tibetans in China. The President commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to nonviolence and dialogue with China and his pursuit of the “Middle Way” approach. Reiterating the U.S. policy that Tibet is a part of the People’s Republic of China and the United States does not support independence for Tibet, the President stressed that he encourages direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans. The President stressed the importance he attaches to building a U.S.-China cooperative partnership. The Dalai Lama stated that he is not seeking independence for Tibet and hopes that dialogue between his representatives and the Chinese government can soon resume.
14 July 2011: Voice of America interview with the Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama talks about his political retirement, his observations on the Chinese leadership, his views on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa and the future of the Dalai Lama institution.
Video part 1 (12 mins) I Video part 2 (12 mins) I Transcript
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