As the saying goes, “you can’t please all of the people all of the time” and Barack Obama is certainly finding that to be the case after his seemingly innocuous meeting with the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader. It seems that Obama’s rendezvous last Friday has upset the Chinese who made an 11th hour appeal to the U.S. leader requesting that he scrap plans to meet with the Dalai Lama, citing strong objections from within the houses of power in Beijing.
Hong Lei, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry left a statement on their website just hours before the Dalai Lama’s arrival at the White House, “We firmly oppose any foreign official to meet with the Dalai Lama in any form. We request the U.S. side to honor its serious commitment that recognizes Tibet as part of China and opposes Tibet independence.”
Obama has also been under pressure from pro-Tibetan activists who criticised him for delaying his invitation to the Dalai Lama during his stay in the capital city, but White House representatives claimed that the president had been extremely occupied with debt-negotiations.
Big Trouble in Big China
Tibet has been a region in exile from China since 1959 after a crackdown forced their spiritual leader to flee. The Chinese government have stressed that he and his followers are free to return to China provided he drops his separatist beliefs, chooses to recognise Taiwan and Tibet as part of China and conforms to Chinese ruling.
China’s tight grip on its power is escalating at the moment with anyone showing any sign of dissent being locked up and made an example of. Journalists, writers, artists and even school teachers have been the subject of police state behaviour as the country lives in fear of uprisings seen in countries like Egypt, Yemen and Libya recently.
Sources inside the country claim it is becoming more of a fascist state than a communist ruling.
Strained relations with China
The Dalai Lama has been on an 11 day visit to the United States as part of a Buddhist ritual. His arrival was celebrated by thousands of Tibetan expatriates who celebrated his 76th birthday with him last Wednesday.
His visit to the White House was kept very low-key and the media were not invited to attend. Obama held the meeting in the map room instead of the Oval Office which is normally reserved for exclusive visits by heads of states and it is thought that this was done so to quell any upset the meeting might cause relations with China.
The session lasted for just 45 minutes and talks of resolution between Tibet and China were thought to be the main focus as well as Obama’s support for Tibetan culture and their human rights agenda.
This isn’t the first time Barack Obama has met the Dalai Lama, the pair first held counsel back in February of 2010, but this latest and more controversial meeting comes just a week ahead of Hilary Rodham Clinton’s scheduled visit to Shenzhen, a city situated in the south of China, while Vice President Joseph Biden is also attending meetings in China throughout the summer before the Chinese VP, Xi Jinping, flies to the U.S. in the autumn.
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images: White House/flickr.com, vagobond.com, freetibet.org, maps2anywhere.com, dismalworld.com