Move 'defiance of China's state sovereignty': Tibetologists
Tibetologists said on Friday the Obama-Dalai Lama meeting was apparently "interference in China's internal affairs" and "defiance of China's state sovereignty."
Despite China's strong opposition, US President Barack Obama met Thursday with the Dalai Lama in Washington. China urged the United States early Friday morning to take concrete action toward the development of healthy bilateral ties.
Du Yongbin, a researcher with the China Tibetology Research Center, said that no nation in the world recognizes "Tibet independence," nor does any country deem the Dharamsala-based "Tibet government-in-exile" legal, and all US presidents and governments publicly acknowledge that Tibet is a part of the Chinese territory.
While the White House said Obama met the Dalai Lama in his so-called "religious identity", Du said the meeting was simply "diplomatic maneuvering".
The Dalai Lama's religious and political identities could not be separated, as he is not only a living Buddha of the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism, but also the de facto leader of the theocratic "government-in-exile," he said.
The meeting aimed to contain China by playing the "Tibet card," Du said, adding when the Dalai Lama went to Washington last October, Obama did not meet him because of an impending visit to China.
Thursday's meeting serves to fulfill Obama's promise to the Dalai Lama that he would meet with him later, Du said, adding Obama was under pressure from the US hardliners and advocates of the "Tibet issue".
Since 1991, when then US President George H.W. Bush became the first US president to meet the Dalai Lama, there were 11 previous meetings between US presidents and the Dalai Lama before Obama took office.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement that the US administration ignored China's repeated opposition to arranging the meeting between Obama and the Dalai Lama.
"The US act grossly violated the norms governing international relations, and ran counter to the principles set forth in the three China-US joint communiqus and the China-US joint statement," he said.
It also went against the repeated commitments by the US government that the US recognizes Tibet as part of China and gives no support to "Tibet independence," he said.
Professor Zhu Feng of the Peking University said the meeting was considered a gesture to the US public and the international community, indicating that the current US administration would pay attention to the "Tibet issue" and "sympathize" and "understand" the "government-in-exile" as previous governments did.
The Dalai Lama is a "human rights defender" in westerners' eyes and they believe human rights is the core of the "Tibet issue," Zhu said.
"Especially at a time when Obama is highly disputed in domestic politics, to abandon or delay the meeting with the Dalai Lama will, to a great extent, intensify criticism on Obama," he said.
The meeting was carried out in the Map Room in the White House instead of the Oval Office which symbolizes the presidential power.
It means, on one hand, Obama intended to tell Americans that he had "shown respect" to the Dalai Lama; on the other hand, he did not want to "offend China too much," Zhu said.
The 75-year-old Dalai Lama was originally named Lhamo Thondup, and he was conferred the title of the 14th Dalai Lama in 1940.
After launching and having failed an armed rebellion in March 1959, he fled to India and formed a so-called "Tibet government-in-exile."
In the guise of religion, the Dalai Lama has since been involved in activities aimed to separate China and to undermine Tibet's social stability.
Declassified US diplomatic archives have disclosed that the US plotted and supported the 1959 armed rebellion in Tibet.
(China Daily 02/20/2010 page2)