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Despite China’s Objection, Obama meets Dalai Lama at the White House

The Dalai Lama has advocated for a middle way — not asking for independence from China for Tibet, but for more autonomy

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President Barack Obama greets His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the entrance of the Map Room of the White House, June 15, 2016
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  • President Barack Obama greets the Dalai Lama as an individual who is a leader and an inspiration
  • Earlier, China warned Obama against meeting with the Dalai Lama, saying it could damage mutual trust
  • The president reiterated the U.S. position that Tibet is a part of China and that the United States does not support Tibetan independence

o video cameras or reporters to document the event.

But afterward a photo emerged, first on the Dalai Lama’s Instagram account and then released by the White House, of the two men facing each other, locked in an embrace that spoke volumes about the warmth of their relationship.

Inan interview with VOA, Myles Caggins, National Security Council spokesman for Asia, said the meeting was personal in nature.

“In this case, personal because the president, as he hosted the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the residence, greets him as an individual who is a leader, who is internationally recognized as a leader for religion and a cultural leader of Tibet. But in contrast, an official visit or a state visit would include the normal trappings of the parade on the South Lawn, potentially a meeting in the Oval Office and a state dinner, potentially.”

Image Source:The Ubyssey

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China warning

Earlier, China warned Obama against meeting with the Dalai Lama, saying it could damage mutual trust. China sees the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist.

Obama refers to the Dalai Lama as “a good friend.” But China fears these meetings between the two send the wrong message to Tibetans.

“If such meeting goes through, it will send a wrong signal to the separatist forces seeking Tibet independence, and it will damage mutual trust and cooperation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters Wednesday in Beijing.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the president has “warm personal feelings” for the Dalai Lama, and thanked him for his letter of condolences to the families of those hurt and killed in Sunday’s mass shooting at an Orlando nightclub. Earnest said the president also appreciated the spiritual leader’s commitment to nonviolence and his efforts to reduce the impact of climate change.

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White House statement

After the meeting, the White House released a statement saying: “The president and the Dalai Lama discussed the situation for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China, and the president 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. The president lauded the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence, and expressed support for the Dalai Lama’s ‘Middle Way’ approach.”

The Dalai Lama has advocated for a middle way — not asking for independence from China for Tibet, but for more autonomy.

Asked about more autonomy for Tibet, NSC spokesman Caggins told VOA that the U.S. position on China has not changed.

“During the meeting, it is important to note that the president reiterated the U.S. position that Tibet is a part of China and that the United States does not support Tibetan independence. But both leaders, the president and the Dalai Lama, agreed that it is important for the United States and China to have a constructive and productive relationship. It is also important that the Dalai Lama and his representatives have a fruitful dialogue with Chinese authorities.”

There has been no dialogues between the Dalai Lama and China’s central government since 2010 .After the re-election of their prime minister in May, they maintain hope to have talks with China to give Tibet more autonomy can continue.

-prepared by Ajay Krishna(with inputs from VOA), an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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Tibetan Activist Sentenced to 5 Years of Imprisonment in China

A Tibetan education activist was on Tuesday sentenced to five years in prison by a Chinese court for inciting separatism, Amnesty International (AI) said, calling the sentence "unjust" and urging his immediate release.

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A Tibetan education activist was on Tuesday sentenced to five years in prison by a Chinese court for inciting separatism, Amnesty International (AI) said, calling the sentence “unjust” and urging his immediate release.

The main evidence against Tashi Wangchuk, who was sentenced by a court in Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai province, was a 2015 video by the New York Times about his campaign for saving the Tibetan language, according to his lawyer.

“Today’s verdict against Tashi Wangchuk is a gross injustice. He is being cruelly punished for peacefully drawing attention to the systematic erosion of Tibetan culture,” AI East Asia Research Director Joshua Rosenzweig was cited as saying by Efe news.

Before his arrest, the 31-year-old activist had expressed concern over the fact that many Tibetan children could not fluently speak their native language, contributing to the progressive extinction of the Tibetan culture.

Representational Image: Tibetan Teachings
Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

“Tashi must be immediately and unconditionally released,” demanded AI, pointing out that the activist had already spent two years in detention without access to his family.

Rosenzweig claimed that Tashi Wangchuk “was a human rights defender and prisoner of conscience who used the media and China’s own legal system in his struggle to preserve Tibetan language, culture and identity”.

In the New York Times video, the activist had highlighted “the extreme discrimination and restrictions on freedom of expression that Tibetans face in China today”.

Also Read: An Attempt to Preserve Ancient Tibetan Literature

Non-profit Human Rights Watch (HRW) also criticized the prison term for Tashi Wangchuk, whose “only crime was to peacefully call for the right of minority peoples to use their own language”, a right safeguarded by the Chinese Constitution.

“His conviction on bogus separatism charges show that critics of government policy on minorities have no legal protections,” said HRW China Director Sophie Richardson. (IANS)