Saturday, 22 February 2014

Without China's Consent

The Dalai Lama and US President Barack Obama chatting in the Map Room
We are still hearing the ringing in our ears from the shrillness of China's voice condemning US President Barack Obama for meeting with the Dalai Lama yesterday.

The White House made a last-minute announcement of the meeting and added it would take place in the Map Room, on the ground floor of the president's residence as opposed to the Oval Office to tone down the formality of the event.

Nevertheless, the pictures of the Tibetan spiritual leader meeting with Obama must have riled up senior Chinese officials despite their attempts to encourage the president to call off the meeting.

"The US seriously interfered in China's internal affairs by allowing the Dalai's visit to the United States and arranging the meetings with US leaders," China's foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in a statement.

"We urge the US to take China's concerns seriously, stop tolerance and support of anti-China separatist forces, cease interfering in China's internal affairs and immediately take measures to eliminate its baneful influence to avoid further impairment to China-US relations."

Yawn. The Foreign Ministry makes the same refrain each time someone plans to meet the Dalai Lama. And such petulant behaviour makes China look like a child that wants its cake and eat it too.

Meanwhile the US National Security Council stressed on Twitter that Obama was meeting the Dalai Lama in his capacity as "an internationally respected religious and cultural leader".

As for "interfering in China's internal affairs", the White House said Obama "reiterated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People's Republic of China. The President commended the Dalai Lama's commitment to peace and nonviolence and expressed support for the Dalai Lama's 'Middle Way' approach."

The statement adds Obama encouraged China and Tibetan representatives to have more direct talks to resolve their differences. "In this context, the President reiterated the US position that Tibet is part of the People's Republic of China and that the United States does not support Tibet independence. The Dalai Lama stated that he is not seeking independence for Tibet and hopes that dialogue between his representatives and the Chinese government will resume."

You heard it here folks -- the US doesn't support Tibetan independence and neither does the Dalai Lama.

So China, what's the problem? If the mainland continues to call the Dalai Lama "a wolf in monk's robes" and "a devil", then who can take China seriously?

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