First public appearance by Dalai Lama and President Obama

6th February 2015

China fumes; calls the event a political liability

On Thursday the Tibetan spiritual leader and the American president both attended the annual Prayer Breakfast held in Washington. This is the first public appearance they have made together - previous meetings have been in private. Though the President did not directly meet the Dalai Lama, who was sitting in the audience during his speech, Obama reiterated his admiration for the Dalai Lama, addressing "His Holiness" (a term indicating his respect) as “a good friend” who encourages “us to speak up for the freedom and dignity of all human beings”. Chinese state media has responded with predictabble outrage, warning the US president that his meeting would be “a political liability which backfires”.

Nations wary of Beijing’s Wrath

China continues to discourage countries from any meetings with the Dalai Lama, calling Tibet an “internal issue”. Last year, South Africa, for the third time, refused to give the Dalai Lama a visa to attend the Nobel Summit with his fellow Peace laureates in Cape Town. This repeated refusal is closely linked to South Africa’s relationship with their biggest trading partner, China.

Under China’s shadow

Previously the Norwegian government refused to meet the Dalai Lama, as have other countries who fear China’s retaliation if they accommodate the Dalai Lama or talk about China’s human rights record. The Chinese government postponed a human rights dialogue with the UK because of a report identifying China as a "country of concern".

Take Action

As a respected spiritual leader and a global ambassador of peace, it is unacceptable that countries are kowtowing to China by refusing to meet or allow the Dalai Lama into their country. Write to your Foreign Minister and tell them to stand up for Tibet.