Provoking China with the Dalai Lama

To the displeasure of the Chinese government, President Obama welcomed Tibet's spiritual leader to the White House.

The U.S. has once again meddled in Chinese affairs with an “unscrupulous trick,” said the Beijing People’s Daily in an editorial. Last week, President Obama welcomed to the White House the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader who is actually “a political exile engaged in separatist activities against China under the guise of religious practice.” Such gross interference in Chinese internal affairs is not only a violation of basic norms of international relations, but also a demonstration of the naïveté of U.S. officials. They are apparently fooled by the Dalai Lama’s insincere smile. Don’t they realize that Tibet under him was a feudal state, where all but the monks were treated as serfs? Tibet’s peaceful liberation by China in the 1950s “was a major historic event, with significance comparable to the liberation of black slaves in America, the abolition of slavery in Europe, and the end of the apartheid system in South Africa.” For the U.S. to continue to support the man who embodies the old, repressive system in Tibet is a poor choice indeed. It will surely harm U.S.-Chinese relations.

Does the Chinese leadership really believe that? asked Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger in Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The over-the-top reaction every time a Western leader meets with the Dalai Lama has become a tired routine: Chinese leaders act “aggressively offended,” as if “bitten by a political tarantula.” But why? It’s not as if Obama said he supported independence for Tibet. All he said was that he believed in human rights for Tibetans. And in fact, while the Chinese may rant and rave, they won’t actually take any action to punish the U.S. for Obama’s brief act of hospitality. “Will China, in revenge, stop buying U.S. Treasury bonds? Certainly not.”

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