The US president received the Buddhist leader in private. The White House points out: "Tibet is part of China, our policy is clear." But China replies: "This visit will damage mutual trust and cooperation with Washington."
Washington (AsiaNews / Agencies) - US President Barack Obama has met with the Dalai Lama for the fourth time since his election to the White House. The visit took place in private, behind closed doors and in the Map Room. During the talks, the US leader encouraged the head of Tibetan Buddhism to "dialogue" with the People's Republic of China.
White House press secretary, Josh Earnest, made it clear after the meeting that " Tibet, per US policy, is considered part of the People's Republic of China, and the United States has not articulated our support for Tibetan independence. Both the Dalai Lama and President Obama value the importance of a constructive and productive relationship between the United States and China."
Despite the very low profile of the meeting, China still protested vigorously. Lu Kang, a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said: "This meeting sends the wrong signal to those who work for the independence of Tibet and separatist forces. It also damages the mutual trust and cooperation between Beijing and Washington ".
Liu Peng, an expert on religious issues for the Chinese Academy Social Sciences, believes that the meeting is no different "from all other points of conflict that characterize the history of relations between the two nations. These are events that displease or even outrage Beijing". According to the analyst "Washington does not want to weaken the relations with China, but is frustrated by Beijing's stance on the situation in the South China Sea and other geopolitical issues".
The People's Republic considers the Dalai Lama "a wolf in monks robes" and accuses him and the Tibetan government in exile of wanting to "divide the country." However, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism has consistently denied wanting to separate the region from the rest of China, and instead has for decades been seeking respect for Tibet’s cultural, linguistic and religious autonomy.