Obama Defies China, Meets With Dalai Lama

Beijing warned the meeting could damage Sino-U.S. relationships, but the president was undeterred.

National Journal
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Jordain Carney
Feb. 21, 2014, 11:23 a.m.

Pres­id­ent Obama met with the Dalai Lama on Fri­day, brush­ing off warn­ings from Chinese of­fi­cials that the meet­ing would harm U.S.-China re­la­tion­ships.

Chinese For­eign Min­istry spokes­per­son Hua Chun­y­ing said that the United States, by tak­ing the meet­ing, would “will grossly in­ter­fere in the in­tern­al af­fairs of China” and “ser­i­ously vi­ol­ate norms gov­ern­ing in­ter­na­tion­al re­la­tions and severely im­pair China-U.S. re­la­tions.”

It’s the third time Obama has met with the Dalai Lama since be­ing elec­ted, and the first meet­ing of his second term. Chinese of­fi­cials had a sim­il­ar re­ac­tion to pre­vi­ous meet­ings.

The pres­id­ent en­cour­aged “dir­ect dia­logue to re­solve long-stand­ing dif­fer­ences,” between China and Tibetans, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the White House, but Obama noted that the U.S. po­s­i­tion is that Tibet is a part of China and “does not sup­port Tibet in­de­pend­ence.”

Chun­y­ing said by tak­ing the meet­ing the United States was fa­cil­it­at­ing and provid­ing a plat­form for the Dalai Lama “to carry out anti-China sep­ar­at­ist activ­it­ies in the US.”

But the Dalai Lama, who has been in ex­ile since 1959, told the pres­id­ent that he is not ask­ing for Tibet to be an in­de­pend­ent coun­try.

Ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials have voiced their con­cern over ten­sions between the Chinese gov­ern­ment and Tibetans, and the pres­id­ent, in Fri­day’s meet­ing, re­it­er­ated his sup­port for the “pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights for Tibetans,” as well as his ap­pre­ci­ation for the Dalai Lama’s “com­mit­ment to peace and non­vi­ol­ence.”


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