top of page

China Opposes Visit Between Obama and Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama in Washington (October 2009). Via BBC.

Chinese officials warned President Obama not to meet with the Dalai Lama, stating that such a meeting would harm bilateral relations between the United States and China. While there are no official plans for President Obama to meet with the exiled Tibetan leader, White House spokesman Mike Hammer announced last month that “the President has made clear to the Chinese government that we intend to meet with the Dalai Lama.” Chinese Communist Party Official Zhu Weiqun said that if a meeting occurs, China “will take corresponding action to make relevant countries see their mistakes.” He added that the U.S. side would violate international rules by making such a decision. Zhu Weiqun also noted that this meeting would damage the trust and cooperation between the two countries during the current economic crisis.

China holds more U.S. debt than any other nation with nearly $800 billion in U.S. securities. It is also one of the country’s largest trading partners. The Dalai Lama issue comes after Beijing lashed at a U.S. plan to sell more than $6 billion in arms to Taiwan, which China sees as a breakaway province. Beijing threatened to halt military ties with the United States and sanction companies that manufacture arms sent to Taiwan.

China maintains that Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries, but many Tibetans say the region was functionally independent for much of its history and consider the Dalai Lama their rightful leader. The Dalai Lama’s representatives said China’s warnings are noteworthy, but they said they would keep pursuing dialogue with Beijing despite their differences. The talks showed no signs of producing any breakthroughs as both sides stuck to the positions they had assumed when they last met in November 2008 and the discussions had ended in deadlock. Beijing has refused to discuss the status of Tibet with the emissaries, saying the Chinese would only address the Dalai Lama’s return to China.

The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against China, leads a government-in-exile in India. Beijing has accused him of trying to split the country — a charge he denies — and often lodges protests against his travel abroad and meetings with heads of state.


bottom of page