The Dalai Lama is holding talks with US President Barack Obama in Washington – a meeting that has angered Beijing.
China – already seething over US plans to close a four billion euro arms deal with Taiwan – sees the Dalai Lama as a separatist who is fomenting unrest in Tibet.
In a diplomatic gesture to placate the Chinese, President Obama is meeting the Dalai Lama – not in the Oval office – but in the White House Map Room, which is normally used for social occasions.
The Dalai Lama is seeking what he calls “genuine autonomy” for his homeland which many Chinese regard as sedition.
One Beijing resident said of the meeting: “The Tibet problem is one of China’s core issues, so Obama shouldn’t put his nose into China’s internal affairs. It is misleading because the Dalai Lama is a separatist. So for him to hold this meeting is not good, and I think it will have an impact on the Sino-U.S. relations.”
The United States says it accepts Tibet is part of China but wants Beijing to sit down with the Dalai Lama to address differences over the region’s future.
Some political analysts believe the meeting will actually enhance the president’s reputation as it will send a message to Beijing that Obama is no pushover.