Obama and Dalai Lama to meet

21st February 2014

What does the White House meeting mean for Tibet?

President Barack Obama is due to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama in the White House, today, 21 February. The meeting is their third since Mr Obama became President. Predictably, China has responded angrily, claiming that the meeting will "seriously damage Sino-US relations"

China's bully tactics

In a statement, Free Tibet has welcomed the meeting and criticised China's bluster.

"China has – as it well knows - no right to tell the leaders of democratic countries that they cannot meet anyone, let alone a spiritual leader and Nobel-laureate who is one of the world’s leading advocates for peace. What China is trying to do is draw a line in the sand: if it can succeed in this, Beijing knows it controls the agenda on Tibet. The rest of the world needs to treat this not as a point of principle from China but a negotiating position: when our leaders push back, China will fall back."

Political progress for Tibet

Although we have criticised President Obama in the past for his silence on Tibet (see below), he deserves praise for holding this meeting and for having met with the Dalai Lama on several occasions as President. The Dalai Lama is no longer a political leader, however, and meetings such as this will not lead to progress on their own. We call on Mr Obama to give robust and public support for change. The White House has expressed concern over human rights abuses in Tibet but has also reiterated its position that Tibet is part of China. That is a matter for the Tibetan people to decide, not Washington or Beijing.

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