From New York Times:
President Bush met privately with the Dalai Lama at the White House on Tuesday, as tensions escalated between the United States and China over Congress’s awarding its highest civilian honor to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
The 30-minute meeting, which the Dalai Lama said included a discussion of the situations in Tibet and Myanmar, formerly Burma, was fraught with symbolism and cloaked in secrecy ” an effort by the White House to avoid further angering the Chinese.
The session was held upstairs in the Yellow Oval Room of the White House residence, not the Oval Office, to send a message that Mr. Bush was receiving a spiritual leader, not a political one. [Full Text]
This week Congress will pay its highest tribute to the 14th Dalai Lama when it confers on him the Congressional Gold Medal in the Capitol Rotunda. President George W. Bush will be on hand for the ceremony, which will be televised across the United States and seen throughout the world.
Will the ceremony be shown in China? I doubt it. More likely, this will be yet one more occasion when Beijing tries to deflect criticism of the ongoing human rights catastrophe in Tibet by attempting to disparage the Dalai Lama, an unimpeachable man of peace.
Beijing’s favorite attack on the Dalai Lama is to say that he aims to split China apart by seeking independence for Tibet. I have known him for over 20 years, and I know this characterization of his position on Tibet is false.
For years the Dalai Lama has pursued a negotiated solution to the Tibetan issue with the Chinese government through the Sino-Tibetan dialogue. In five rounds of discussions, His Holiness, through his designated representatives, has made it clear to the Chinese government that he does not seek Tibetan independence. Instead, he believes the best option is genuine autonomy for Tibet within the context of Chinese sovereignty and in accordance with the constitution of the People’s Republic of China. However, instead of embracing the Dalai Lama’s overture for peace, Beijing has resolutely refused to make any concessions. [Full Text]