Barack Obama met His Holiness the Dalai Lama last Saturday at the White House. The meeting happened despite China’s warning that it could have a negative impact on the relationship between China and the United States. In the meeting, the American President emphasised the necessity of dialogue between China and the Tibetan people. He also reaffirmed his support for the human rights in Tibet.
After the meeting, the Chinese Foreign Ministry deemed it to be an interference in internal affairs, stressing that “the issue regarding Tibet concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and we firmly oppose any foreign official to meet with the Dalai Lama in any form”.
Obama’s firm public commitment to the human rights of Tibetans is in stark contrast with British Prime Minister David Cameron’s approach. Last month, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met with Daivd Cameron who, in his eagerness to build trade with China, failed to take a firm, public position on human rights in Tibet. This came despite Cameron’s affirmation, last February, that Britain need not choose between values and interests.