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It is “logical” for Donald Trump to meet the Dalai Lama: says Lobsang Sangay, Tibet’s prime minister in exile

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FILE PHOTO: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama watches a dance performance on the last day of his teachings in Tawang in the northeastern Indian state of Arunchal Pradesh November 11, 2009. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi/File Photo
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By David Brunnstrom

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of Tibet’s government in exile said on Wednesday it would be “logical” for Donald Trump to meet the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, since the U.S. president has visited homes of the Muslim, Jewish and Christian religions on his current international tour.

FILE PHOTO: Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama smiles during a news conference in Hamburg, August 21, 2011. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer/File Photo

The Dalai Lama has met the past four U.S. presidents, greatly angering China, which considers Tibet a renegade province and the spiritual leader a dangerous separatist. He has not yet been invited to meet Trump, who has been courting Beijing’s support over North Korea.

“Donald Trump … has been to all three major sacred places of three major traditions,” Lobsang Sangay, Tibet’s prime minister in exile, said referring to Trump’s visits to Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Vatican.

“So what is left is Buddhism and his holiness the Dalai Lama is the most prominent Buddhist leaders in the world,” Sangay told the Heritage Foundation think tank on a visit to Washington.

“If he can meet with all leaders of major traditions, I think it’s just logical that he meet with the most prominent Buddhist leader,” he said.

Sangay did not say whether he thought such a meeting likely, but said: “We are Tibetans. We are perennially optimistic.”

Sangay told Reuters earlier this month that the Dalai Lama had planned to visit the United States in April but had delayed the trip until June because a hectic schedule had left him exhausted. He also said Washington was not part of the June itinerary.

A U.S. administration official told Reuters this week it was premature to talk about a meeting between Trump and the Dalai Lama and that the administration’s priority was persuading China to do more to rein in North Korea’s increasingly threatening nuclear and missile program.

On Wednesday, however, Washington risked Beijing’s anger when a U.S. warship sailed within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, the first such challenge to Beijing in the strategic waterway since Trump took office.

Last week China said it had complained to the United States after a U.S. congressional delegation visited the Dalai Lama at his headquarters in India to draw world attention to human rights in Tibet.

The U.S. lawmakers delivered a blunt message to China that they would not relent in their campaign to protect rights in Tibet and would call for legislative and trade steps to press their point.

(Reporting by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Bill Trott)

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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)