Washington/Beijing, June 16 (IANS) US President Barack Obama met privately with the Dalai Lama at the White House, drawing much anger and criticism from China with a leading Chinese daily saying the meeting exhibited Obama’s “mean side”.
The two leaders met at the Map Room on Wednesday, and discussed issues including human rights and climate change — in what the White House termed a personal conversation based on Obama’s appreciation of the 81-year-old Buddhist leader’s teachings.
Beijing has strenuously objected to the meeting.
Josh Earnest, the White House Press Secretary, said the meeting’s venue indicated that it was a personal greeting rather than formal bilateral talks.
“Both the Dalai Lama and President Obama value the importance of a constructive and productive relationship between the US and China,” Earnest said.
During the meeting, Obama repeated the US position that Tibet is part of China and that Washington does not support Tibetan independence, the White House said. The President also urged the Dalai Lama and his representatives to work directly with Chinese officials to resolve differences.
The Dalai Lama fled from Tibet to India in 1959 and established the Central Tibetan Administration after a failed uprising against Chinese communist rule.
The Dalai Lama reaffirmed that he was not seeking independence for Tibet and wants to resume a dialogue with the Chinese government, the White House said.
However, China’s Foreign Ministry said it had expressed its opposition to the meeting in “solemn representations” to the US Embassy in Beijing.
“We need to emphasise that the Tibetan issue is China’s internal affair and other countries don’t have any right to interfere with this,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said on Wednesday.
In an editorial, China’s leading daily, the Global Times said the meeting showed Obama’s “mean side”.
“While Obama often says he welcomes China’s peaceful rise, his meetings with the Dalai Lama erode his sincerity and make him look more like he is helping the latter continue to make trouble with China,” the daily said in an editorial.
“Having met the Dalai Lama more often than his Western counterparts in the last decade, Obama has set a bad example,” it added.
Another editorial issued by the same daily, which is generally known to reflect the views of the leadership of the Communist Party of China, said Washington’s “unwise behaviour has broken the solemn promise of the US not to support Tibet’s independence, seriously jeopardised China-US relations, and deeply hurt the Chinese people’s feelings”.
“By meeting with the Dalai Lama, the US government has broken its own promise and thrown away its political credibility, which is an extremely rash and irresponsible act,” it said.
The editorial also said this flip-flopping shows the White House’s narrow-mindedness and outdated way of thinking that still seeks to contain China by playing the “Tibet card”.
“Playing the ‘Tibet card’ shows the US government is overdrawing its political credit and international prestige,” the editorial added.
Obama has met with the Dalai Lama on three other occasions in 2014, 2011 and 2010.