Obama meets with Dalai Lama despite China opposition

Published: July 17, 2011
President Obama meets with the Dalai Lama at the White House on Saturday. PHOTO: White House

President Obama meets with the Dalai Lama at the White House on Saturday. PHOTO: White House

WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama on Saturday defied warnings from China and welcomed the Dalai Lama to the White House, urging respect for human rights and cultural traditions in Tibet.

China immediately lodged a protest and accused Obama of undermining relations between the world’s two largest economies by meeting with Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, who has spent more than a half-century in exile.

The White House choreographed the visit to be low key, holding it on a weekend in the mansion’s private residence. The White House later released a photo of a tieless Obama listening pensively to the robed monk.

“The president reiterated his strong support for the preservation of the unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions of Tibet and the Tibetan people throughout the world,” the White House said in a statement.

“He underscored the importance of the protection of human rights of Tibetans in China,” it said of the 44-minute meeting in the mansion’s private Map Room.

The White House did not allow reporters to enter the meeting and announced it just hours before the Dalai Lama was set to close an 11-day trip to Washington, in which the monk is leading thousands in a Buddhist ritual.

The Dalai Lama voiced happiness about the meeting and said he felt close to Obama at a “human level.”

Obama is “president of the greatest democratic country, so naturally he is showing concern about basic human values, human rights, religious freedom,” the Dalai Lama said after the meeting in response to a question from AFP.

“So naturally he shows genuine concern about the suffering in Tibet and also some other places,” he said.

The White House stressed that both the United States and Dalai Lama accepted Tibet to be a part of China. But Beijing insists that the Dalai Lama is a “splittist” and has sought to dent his popularity around the world.

China angered over Obama-Lama meeting

China’s foreign ministry had demanded Obama cancel the meeting. It expressed anger that he went ahead and urged the United States to “cease to connive and support anti-China separatist forces that seek ‘Tibet independence.'”

“Such an act has grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs, hurt the feelings of Chinese people and damaged the Sino-American relations,” foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said, according to the state Xinhua news agency.

Chinese state television made no mention of the Dalai Lama’s talks in Washington but gave prominent coverage to a rare reception by President Hu Jintao for young people from the United States.

The White House statement supported dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama’s representatives and said the Tibetan leader hoped that talks would resume soon.

China has held nine rounds of talks with the Dalai Lama’s envoys, the last in January 2010. But the dialogue has yielded no tangible progress, leading many Tibetans to believe Beijing is trying to wait out the 76-year-old monk’s death in hopes that his calls for greater rights will wither away without him.

The meeting is Obama’s second in office with the Dalai Lama; his first, in February 2010, was also closed press in the Map Room. Previous president George W. Bush met the Dalai Lama openly to award him a Congressional Gold Medal.

The White House reiterated support for a “cooperative partnership” with China, a growing power and major holder of the US debt. In January, Washington rolled out the red carpet for Hu on a state visit.

US lawmakers and human rights groups had pressed Obama to see the Dalai Lama and some voiced disappointment that he waited so long to confirm the meeting.

“This meeting is better late than never, but it remains disappointing that the Dalai Lama was squeezed in at the last minute after much apparent hemming-and-hawing from the White House due to objections from Beijing,” said Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of the rival Republican Party.

The State Department in its latest annual report described “severe cultural and religious repression” in Tibet along with China’s predominantly Muslim northwestern region of Xinjiang.

Rights groups this year reported a major crackdown on Kirti monastery in Sichuan province after an anti-government protest. The International Campaign for Tibet said police rounded up hundreds of monks and that two elderly Tibetan laypeople who tried to protest the monastery died after police beatings.

The advocacy group said authorities have recently put Tibet’s capital Lhasa under a virtual lockdown as China holds celebrations for the 50th anniversary of Tibet’s “peaceful liberation.”


Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (23)

  • Cautious
    Jul 17, 2011 - 2:33AM

    Never have understood why China is terrified of a guy who does nothing but preach non violence — definite sign of insecurity. I suppose it’s akin to Gandhi and the Brits.


  • Arindom
    Jul 17, 2011 - 3:54AM

    When will Pakistan support human rights and self-determination in Tibet? Or does only Muslims have human rights?


  • Ashok
    Jul 17, 2011 - 5:46AM

    Why human rights supporters of Pakistan don’t support Free Tibet?


  • Jul 17, 2011 - 8:01AM

    Various wealthy mystics in Hollywood have promoted the Dalai Lama as an exemplar of refined spirituality, but in reality the Dalai Lama’s operation, currently based in India, is a relic of the Allen Dulles-Richard Bissell era of Cold War extremists at the CIA. The current Dalai Lama attempted to lead an insurrection against Chinese rule in 1959, which was supported by the oppressive feudal nobility of Tibet, but failed because it had little appeal to the former serfs and slaves who made up about 80% of Tibetan society. Tibet under the Dalai Lama was a country where 200 wealthy families held 93% of the wealth, while the masses were so poor and downtrodden that the population was declining. During the 1960s, the CIA gave several million dollars a year to the Dalai Lama’s court, with the Dalai Lama personally getting more than $180,000 per year from the US taxpayer. Today, the Dalai Lama’s court in northern India is the home of a gaggle of reactionary Tibetan aristocrats supported by $2 million per year from that same US taxpayer. This is a very bad investment for the United States. It is time to defund the Dalai Lama, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and foreign commerce, and engage Beijing in realistic diplomacy.


  • Jul 17, 2011 - 8:30AM

    It looks like China’s way of dealing with its own citizens is layered into their comments to the US. The problem is, that style only works when there is fear to be exploited. If not, well, it turns out like this.


  • Jul 17, 2011 - 8:38AM

    Just as the China is wrong so is the India with regards to Kashmir! Every occupation is wrong!


  • Adil
    Jul 17, 2011 - 9:17AM

    @ Arindom and Ashok

    Why does India have a close relationship with Israel which was formed by backstabbibg Palestinians and Arabs? Why don’t Indians support Arabs on international forums on the issue?

    Why do your people feel joy by having close relationship with a nation such as USA, a country which even many Indian intellects such as Dr. Zakir Naik and Arundhati Roy criticize…not to mention how US media defamed Zakir Naik just like the Iranian president simply coz they spoke truth about US policies. The bottomline is that USA itself is the greatest terrorist and imperialist.


  • Adil
    Jul 17, 2011 - 9:38AM

    Plus check the reality of Mr. The Lie Lama in the following links. Check how he has been misinforming the whole world for the past many decades



    A perfect example of American hypocrisy…Freedom and Democracy in their own yard which also sound fake in light of the effects of powerful corporations and their corporate media, but support Feudalism and Theocracy in other parts of the globe.



  • Rock
    Jul 17, 2011 - 11:29AM

    @Adil: Arabs are non-democratc and they do have some controvercial ideas. Anyway India is doing very good business with them. Israel-palestine issue is bilateral issue which has long conflicting history. So India is neutral. India does trade with US and we do not beg. Arundhati roy and Dr. Zakir naik are two controvercial figures. less talk about them is better. If “USA itself is the greatest terrorist and imperialist” why the entire world including pakistan is sleeping? Simple India is avoiding international politics. We just want better India then we will think about better world.


  • Rock
    Jul 17, 2011 - 11:36AM

    @Adil: just read disclaimer of the refered article of global research.

    Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.

    The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: publications@globalresearch.ca

    http://www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

    For media inquiries: media@globalresearch.ca

    Copyright © , Russia Today, 2009


  • LOL
    Jul 17, 2011 - 3:45PM


    Israel-palestine issue is bilateral issue

    An issue can only be bilateral if it exists between two independent States. While Israel has dubiously been accepted as one, Palestine still remains a dream. In the meanwhile, Israel continues to nibble away at the land meant for a future Palestinian state by creating more illegal settlements.

    So what is Israel’s good friend India’s stand on that? A shrug of the shoulder?


  • Jul 17, 2011 - 4:22PM

    Chinese geologists are reported to have discovered a vast oil deposit in a remote part of northern Tibet.
    The oil deposit in the Qiangtan Basin extends over 100 kilometres (60 miles) and may hold as much as 100 million tonnes of oil, according the official Xinhua news agency.

    No wonder US wants a piece of it.


  • Rock
    Jul 17, 2011 - 8:30PM

    Israel-palestine issue is bilateral issue which has long conflicting history. So India is neutral. We talked to both parties and requested them to solve the issue amicably. We are not permanent member of UN security. Our stand does not going to affect any party. Our stand is neutral.


  • Ashutosh
    Jul 17, 2011 - 10:51PM

    India shared a very close relationship with Yasser Arafat. After his death, there is no clear leadership that exists in Palestine. The Hamas and Fatah are fighting among themselves and India can not takes sides. India has to wait until we find a true Representative of the Palestinian people.
    Also, India had been saddened by the failure of various peace attempts mostly attributable to various fraction of Palestinian people.
    Also, there is a feeling that Muslims around the world are not seeking a solution to the problem but simply want to annihilate Israel. No sane person is going to accept that or am I wrong?


  • Adeel759
    Jul 18, 2011 - 12:01AM

    Mr. you need to learn to have some courtesy, His holy highness is Reincarnation of God to many. There fore, watch you words before you utter. Dont disrespect him because he doesn’t have followers like you who would go to any extent in the name of blasphemy, because they believe in peace doesn’t give you the right to dishonor him for the sake of your onesided friendship with china.Recommend

  • Sam
    Jul 18, 2011 - 10:36AM


    hsotility isnt the ownly way to gather support/a following… i suppose thats why


  • ifesvr
    Jul 18, 2011 - 1:14PM

    @LOL and @Adil:
    please check indo-palestine relations before giving your opinions. This is what the Indian ministry of external affairs have to say as of Feb 2011.
    ‘India’s empathy with the Palestinian cause and its friendship with the people of Palestine have become an integral part of its time‐tested foreign policy. In 1947, India voted against the partition of Palestine at the United Nations General Assembly. India was the first Non‐Arab State to recognize PLO as sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people in 1974. India was one of the first countries to recognize the State of Palestine in 1988.’

    And with UNSC resolutions 242, 338 and 425 it maintains that Palestine has a right to exist as an independent state through peaceful means. Of course its up to Israel and Palestine to decide the borders and solution.

    Interesting point about UNSC resolution 425 which asked Israel to ceasefire and withdraw from Lebanon in Mar 1978. India was 1 of 12 to vote for, while 2 abstained. 1 permanent member did not turn up, and no it’s not USA, it was China! It was the same in resolution 338,339,340.


  • Jul 18, 2011 - 3:58PM

    Watch the National Geographic’s:
    Dalai Lama, Tibet, and Nazi Germany Collaboration
    This illuminating National Geographic documentary reveals the “mutual understanding” that was established between Tibet and Nazi Germany during Ernst Shafer’s expeditions. Shafer, an SS Officer, acted as a go between for the “Eastern and Western Swastikas”. With imagery of the medieval conditions endured by ordinary Tibetans, including the fear-mongering monk police, this documentary opens a window to the Tibet that the Dalai Lama and his cronies would like to keep hidden from the world.


  • Sam
    Jul 18, 2011 - 4:45PM


    OMG did u just make this a hindu musalman issue? your really immature to.. the problem with such people is that u guys will always see yourselves as perfect and the otherperson as being wrong.. grow up! im not even gonna bother quoting the number of musalmans killed by hindus in india and in indian occupied kashmir… your too deep in denial to even accepts such hard core facts


  • Sam
    Jul 18, 2011 - 4:47PM


    why arent elections held in indian occupied kashmir?


  • Dil to pagal hai
    Jul 19, 2011 - 9:34AM

    Guys, this artical was about China and US. Why India is discussed so much? Please don’t have so much obsession about Indians.


  • Sam
    Jul 19, 2011 - 2:12PM

    @Dil to pagal hai:

    get your facts straight the very second comment pasted here turned into an india pakistan issue…

    Arindom “When will Pakistan support human rights and self-determination in Tibet? Or does only Muslims have human rights?”

    now using your own logic it gives me great pleasure to request u indians to stop obsessing with us pakistanis :)


  • Ashutosh
    Jul 22, 2011 - 10:42PM

    “why arent elections held in indian occupied Kashmir?”
    Like every part of India, all sorts of elections are held in Jammu & Kashmir. This includes the nation elections, the state election and recently even the village level “Gram Panchatay” elections where held.
    All these elections are held under the glare of International media and observers.

    Also the increasing turn-up of Kasmiris to vote had send a chill down the Pakistanis and separatists.
    In the last general election one of the leading separatist leader Sajjad Lone contested it to check the popularity of separatists in Kashmir, but he ended up at poor 3rd or 4th place in his constituency.
    It seems that most Pakistani are totally ignorant about the real state of Jammu & Kashmir.
    The bloggers will have a better understanding of why the world had turned its back to Pakistani stand if the do some research from 3rd party or from credible sources.


More in World