President Obama meets Dalai Lama despite Chinese objections

16th June 2016

Concerns over human rights and environmental damage expressed

President Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama behind closed doors in the White House on Wednesday, 15 June. The meeting was their fourth since Mr Obama became President, and provoked  the usual criticism from China.

"If the United States plans this meeting, it will send the wrong signal to Tibet independence and separatist forces and harm China-US mutual trust and cooperation" said Lu Kang, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman.

The meeting was symbolic of US support for progress in resolving the political situation in Tibet but there was no significant change in the US stance on Tibetan sovereignty:

"Tibet, per US policy, is considered part of the People's Republic of China, and the United States has not articulated our support for Tibetan independence,'' said White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

Human rights and environmental damage in Tibet

The White House reported that the President had “emphasized his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions and the equal protection of human rights of Tibetans in China.”

Additionally, in the context of the reckless exploitation of Tibet's resources and its environment, Mr Obama expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s “efforts to raise awareness of the importance of limiting global warming, including to protect the Himalayan glaciers and the environment on the Tibetan plateau.”

National Endowment for Democracy honours Tibetans

The Dalai Lama was visiting Washington to attend an event at the National Endowment for Democracy, in which the Central Tibetan Administration (the Tibetan "government-in-exile") was honoured for its work in promoting democracy. In addition, the Democracy Service Medal was posthumously presented to honour Tibetan Buddhist monk Tenzin Delek Rinpoche. Tenzin Delek Rinpoche was one of Tibet's most high profile political prisoners and died in suspicious circumstances in a Sichuan prison in 2015, 13 years into his sentence.

China's intimidation tactics

China has in the past successfully deterred countries such as the UK, South Africa and Norway from meeting with the Dalai Lama whom they consider a “violent separatist” by leveraging their economic power and threatening consequences for trade and investment.

Take action

The Chinese government seeks to prevent the Dalai Lama from generating support for Tibet across the world, and hopes to dash the hopes of Tibetans by showing that he is an increasingly marginal figure. Despite this, Tibetans' loyalty to him remains as strong as ever. China now plans to neutralise the threat of a free Dalai Lama completely by appointing its own puppet as the next Dalai Lama. Please take action to demand that governments refuse to recognise a "Chinese" Dalai Lama.