Dalai Lama to meet President Obama at White House, China warns against meeting

By Daniel S Levine,

The White House announced on Thursday that President Barack Obama will be meeting with the Dalai Lama today. As it has done before Obama’s previous meetings with the Dalai Lama, China has warned Obama against doing so.

The Dalai Lama lives in exile. China has claimed that the spiritual leader is inciting unrest in the Tibet region, which it refuses to give up. However, the Dalai Lama has said that he’s only trying to get Tibet enough autonomy to protect the Buddhist culture. Obama met with the Dalai Lama in 2010 and 2011.

“By arranging a meeting between the President and the Dalai Lama, the U.S. side will grossly interfere in the internal affairs of China, seriously violate norms governing international relations and severely impair China-U.S. relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Friday, reports CNN.

As the AFP notes, the Dalai Lama has already arrived in the U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Obama will meet him “in his capacity as an internationally respected religious and cultural leader." The meeting will not be open to the media.

“We do not support Tibetan independence,” Hayden said, but noted, "The United States strongly supports human rights and religious freedom in China. We are concerned about continuing tensions and the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas of China."

Tensions between Beijing and Tibet are still high, even decades after the Dalai Lama fled in 1959. Just in the past five years, 125 Tibetans have set themselves on fire. China has made a stand against the protestors, often convicted of inciting unrest.

image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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