China fumes as senior US official calls on Dalai Lama in India

Beijing was not amused as New Delhi tacitly sent out a message by allowing the senior US diplomat to meet the Dalai Lama in India
Last Updated 19 May 2022, 20:15 IST

A senior diplomat of the United States called on Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, in India and conveyed to him greetings from American President Joe Biden, raising hackles in China.

The US Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights, Uzra Zeya, met the Dalai Lama at the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile (TGiE) at Dharamshala in Himachal Pradesh in India.

Zeya is also the US Special Coordinator for issues related to Tibet.

Though the past US Presidents like H W Bush, Bill Clinton, George Bush and Barack Obama had hosted the Dalai Lama at the White House in Washington DC, Trump never had a meeting with the icon of the global resistance against the Chinese Government’s rule in Tibet. Biden too has not yet extended an invitation to the octogenarian monk to visit Washington DC.

She conveyed to the 86-year-old monk greetings from President Joe Biden and the people of the US. The Dalai Lama told the senior US official that the Communist Party of China could not win over the Tibetans. He and Zeya also discussed the rich traditions of freedom and democracy in India and the US, according to a post on the official website of the TGiE, a.k.a. the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA).

Beijing was not amused as New Delhi tacitly sent out a message by allowing the senior US diplomat to meet the Dalai Lama in India.

“The so-called Tibetan Government-in-Exile is an out-and-out separatist political group and an illegal organization in total violation of the constitution and laws of China. It is not recognized by any country in the world,” Zhao Lijian, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Chinese Government, said in Beijing. He was replying to a question from a journalist on the US diplomat’s meeting with the Dalai Lama.

He said that the Dalai Lama was “a political exile disguised as a religious figure”. He has long been engaging in anti-China separatist activities and attempting to split Tibet from China. The appointment of the so-called US Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues amounted to an interference in the internal affairs of China, he added. “China is firmly opposed to this and has never acknowledged it.”

Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump’s administration had 2020 appointed Robert A Destro as the first US Special Coordinator for issues related to Tibet, triggering strong protest from China.

Zeya succeeded Destro. She had a meeting last month with Penpa Tsering, the elected political head of the TGiE, in Washington D.C.

Tsering, the Sikyong (president) of the CTA, was present during Zeya’s meeting with the Dalai Lama on Thursday.

“The US should take concrete actions to honour its commitment of acknowledging Tibet as part of China, and not supporting the independence of Tibet,” the spokesperson of the Chinese Government said.

“It (the US) should stop meddling in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of Tibet-related issues, and offer no support to the anti-China separatist activities of the Dalai clique. China will continue to take necessary measures to resolutely safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests.”

(Published 19 May 2022, 20:15 IST)

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