Blinken meeting Dalai Lama’s representative in Delhi has 2 messages for China
US secretary of state Antony Blinken began his formal engagements in New Delhi on Wednesday by meeting a representative of the Dalai Lama, signalling the Biden administration’s support to the Tibetan cause.
Blinken briefly met with Ngodup Dongchung of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) before his meetings with top Indian leaders. Dongchung presented Blinken a scarf from the Dalai Lama and conveyed the CTA’s gratitude for the US administration’s backing for the Tibetan cause, people familiar with developments said on condition of anonymity.
The meeting was one of the most conspicuous contacts between American and Tibetan officials since President Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama in Washington in 2016 and former CTA head Lobsang Sangay was invited to the White House last November.
The meeting also came two days after US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman met Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and raised American concerns about human rights, including abuses in Tibet, the anti-democracy crackdown in Hong Kong, and the genocide in Xinjiang.
“Secretary Blinken had an opportunity to meet briefly this morning in New Delhi with a representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Central Tibetan Administration representative Ngodup Dongchung,” a US state department spokesperson said without giving details.
Another US official, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, said: “The Dalai Lama obviously is a globally revered spiritual leader and so the gesture was gratefully received and appreciated.”
The people cited above said the meeting was being seen as a strong signal of support for the Dalai Lama and was also significant as it was held in India at a time when New Delhi and Beijing are locked in a standoff along the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
“It was a clear signal that the Biden administration will continue the Trump administration’s high-level engagements and support to the Tibetan side. It also has to be seen in the context of the Tibet Policy and Support Act passed by the US Congress last year, which calls for the Tibetans to have the final say in choosing the successor to the Dalai Lama and the setting up of a US consulate in Lhasa,” one of the people cited above said.
Geshe Dorji Damdul, the director of the Tibet House in New Delhi, was among the select group of people invited for a civil society roundtable with Blinken shortly after the meeting with Dongchung.
There was no immediate response from the Chinese side to the meeting between Blinken and Dongchung.