US President Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama on Friday ignoring Chinese objections and expressed strong US support for the protection of human rights of Tibetans in China.
But the president told the Dalai Lama, in their third meeting yet, the US didn’t support Tibetan independence. But it did support the exiled leader’s “Middle- Way” approach of neither assimilation nor independence.
The president also said, according to a White House statement, “he encourages direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans”
Read: China asks Obama not to meet Dalai Lama
The Dalai Lama agreed and said he was not seeking independence from China and that he was hoping for direct dialogue to resume with authorities in Beijing.
The two leaders first met in February 2010 and then in 2011.
Beijing had reacted angrily to the Friday meeting which was by the White House on Thursday. The foreign ministry demanded in a statement that that the meeting be cancelled.
“By arranging a meeting between the President and the Dalai Lama, the US side will grossly interfere in the internal affairs of China,” said spokesperson Hua Chunying.
She added that the meeting could “seriously violate norms governing international relations and severely impair China-US relations”.
Beijing has been always opposed to any world leader meeting the Dalai Lama, and reacts with predictable anger, which is routinely, and just as predictably, ignored.
Chinese state-run Xinhua news agency said in a commentary that either the White House was blindfolded by the Dalai Lama's word game, or politicians were seeking once again to manipulate China with an unscrupulous old trick.
It said that the “seemingly reasonable and mild “Middle Way” approach’ of the Dalai Lama was just a camouflaged attempt at Tibetan independence.”
The Dalai Lama is on a three-week tour of the US.
He was at a conservative think tank here in DC on Thursday, where the conversation was mostly about faith and philosophy. No politics.
Since 2009, more than 120 Tibetans have self-immolated protesting against Beijing’s hardline rule in the Tibetan Autonomous Region and demanding the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet.