China drama over Obama’s meeting with Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama greets the audience before addressing the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Feb. 20, 2014. (Reuters)

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui on Friday night summoned the U.S. charge d’affairs to protest President Barack Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama, state media reported.

“China expresses strong indignation and firm opposition,” Yesui said, according to the Xinhua news agency.

Earlier on Friday, Obama met with the Dalai Lama at the White House, despite Bejing’s warning that meeting the exiled Buddhist spiritual leader who “inflict grave damages” on the relationship between the two powerful nations.

After the meeting, the White House said in a statement that Obama offered his “strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural, and linguistic traditions” and for human rights protections for Tibetans in China, according to the Associated Press.

In turn, the Dalai Lama told Obama he does not seek Tibetan independence. Both leaders said that they wished for talks to resume between Bejing and the Dalai Lama’s representatives.

‘Respected’

The Dalai Lama’s visit was the third time Obama had met the Tibetan spiritual leader, who the White House calls “an internationally respected religious and cultural leader.” Previous meetings were in Feb. 2010 and July 2011.

China responded almost immediately to the White House’s announcement of the meeting late Thursday.

“It is a severe violation of the principles of international relations,” said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry, “It will inflict grave damages upon the China-U.S. relationship.”

When the White House announced the meeting late Thursday, China responded almost immediately, urging Obama to cancel it in what has become something of a diplomatic ritual whenever the president meets with the exiled Buddhist monk. In a biting statement, China’s government accused Obama of letting the Dalai Lama use the White House to promote anti-Chinese activities.

“It is a severe violation of the principles of international relations,” said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry. “It will inflict grave damages upon the China-U.S. relationship.”

Not formal

Despite media requests for access to Obama and the Dalai Lama’s meeting, the president met the exiled monk in the White House’s Map Room rather than the Oval Office, suggesting an attempt to avoid the appearance of a formal meeting between two heads of state.

Instead, their meeting was instead within the Dalai Lama’s capacity as a cultural and religious leader, the White House said, reiterating that the U.S. recognizes Tibet as a part of China and is not in favor of Tibetan independence.

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in northern India since fleeing China in 1959.
 

(With AFP and the Associated Press)

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:42 - GMT 06:42
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