19 February 2010

High level, low level, unofficial official meeting...

Statement issued by White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs
The President met this morning at the White House with His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. The President stated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China. The President commended the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” approach, his commitment to nonviolence and his pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government. The President stressed that he has consistently encouraged both sides to engage in direct dialogue to resolve differences and was pleased to hear about the recent resumption of talks. The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of a positive and cooperative relationship between the United States and China.
One official photograph of the event was publicly released, which is why all media reports are using the same picture.

Official White House photo by Pete Souza

The meeting was held in the Map Room, not the Oval Office, to play down the status of the meeting. There was no official welcome (or fanfare) and no media witnesses to the 'private' 70 minute meeting.

As expected, Beijing responded sternly. Assistant Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai, summoned Jon Huntsman, the US Ambassador to China, and “lodged solemn representations”. Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu issued a very strongly worded statement about US President Obama's Meeting with the Dalai Lama
On February 18, 2010 (EST), the US side bent on arranging the meeting between President Obama and Dalai in the Map Room of the White House in disregard of the repeated solemn representations from the Chinese side. The US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also met with Dalai on the same day. The action of the US side has seriously interfered in China's internal affairs, seriously hurt the national feelings of the Chinese people, and seriously undermined China-US relations. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai has summoned the US Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman for solemn representations.

Tibet is an inseparable part of the sacred Chinese territory and Tibet-related issues are purely China's internal affairs. China is firmly opposed to any meeting with Dalai by leaders or government officials of any country in whatever form. China is also resolutely opposed to the interference in China's internal affairs by any country or person under the pretext of Dalai-related issues. The words and deeds of Dalai in the past several decades have shown that he is not purely a religious figure, but a political exile engaged in long-term anti-China splittist activities under the disguise of religion. The approval of Dalai's visit to the US and the arrangement of meetings with the US leader and other government officials have severely violated the basic norms governing international relations, undermined the principles enshrined in the three China-US Joint Communiqués and China-US Joint Statement, and gone against the commitment of the US Government on different occasions that Tibet is a part of China and the US does not support "Tibet Independence". China hereby expresses its strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition.

The Chinese Government and people stand steadfast in their resolve to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Any attempt from any person to interfere in China's internal affairs under the Dalai issue is doomed to failure. China requests the US side to take China's position seriously, take prompt and effective measures to remove the malign impact, stop the connivance and support of the anti-China splittist forces for "Tibet Independence", and stop the interference in China's internal affairs by taking concrete actions to maintain the healthy and stable development of China-US relations.
Beijing should perhaps take some comfort in the fact that this visit was very much a low key affair compared to the last time.

President George W. Bush, joined by U.S. Senator Robert Byrd and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, presents the Congressional Gold Medal to The Dalai Lama at a ceremony Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2007 at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.
(photo by Chris Greenberg, then employed at the White House)

So the diplomatic dance begins again.

Here is a good analysis from PBS Newshour

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