Obama to Meet Dalai Lama at White House

President Obama will host the Dalai Lama at the White House on Friday, two days after a senior Chinese ethnic affairs official warned that leaders meeting with him should “pay a price,” and that “China’s power cannot be avoided.” From the AP’s Josh Lederman:

The exiled leader, who is in the U.S. for a speaking tour, is famed for his peaceful struggle for greater Tibetan autonomy that is bitterly opposed by China. The last time he met with Obama, in 2011, China blasted the meeting and said it had damaged Chinese-American ties. China was similarly irked when the two met in 2010.

[…] Obama was to host the Nobel laureate for a private, morning meeting in the White House’s map room. Traditionally, when Obama meets with presidents and prime ministers, he hosts them in the Oval Office and allows reporters to witness a short portion of the meeting. The decision to hold the meeting elsewhere and to close the meeting to reporters could signal an attempt to avoid the appearance of a formal meeting between two heads of state.

Seeking to stave off potential controversy, the White House reiterated late Thursday that the U.S. recognizes Tibet as part of China and doesn’t support Tibetan independence. At the same time, officials said they were concerned about tensions and deteriorating human rights in China’s Tibetan areas, urging Beijing to resume talks with the Dalai Lama or his followers without preconditions. [Source]

Beijing’s response was swift, Gerry Mullany reports at Sinosphere:

[… T]he Chinese Foreign Ministry criticized the planned visit just hours after it was announced, with a spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, calling it a “crude interference in China’s domestic affairs” and saying it will “seriously damage” already strained U.S.-Chinese ties.

[…] In the Foreign Ministry statement, Ms. Hua accused the U.S. of meddling in China’s internal affairs by going ahead with the visit.

“It must be pointed out that Tibetan affairs are purely a domestic matter of China, and no foreign country has the right to meddle,” she said. “The Dalai is a political exile who for a long time has wielded the banner of religion to engage in anti-China separatist activities.” [Source]

The situation in Tibet was discussed last week in a ChinaFile Conversation on rising ethnic tensions in China. On Wednesday, the Dalai Lama shared his views on Xi Jinping, self-immolations, climate change, Pope Francis, marijuana, Facebook and Twitter with TIME.

February 20, 2014 7:49 PM
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