The Dalai Lama’s Washington, D.C., visit has so far consisted of a prayer for victims of the Orlando Pulse nightclub massacre amidst talks at universities and world peace organizations. The Dalai Lama also met with President Obama today. Obama met with him in the Map Room instead of the Oval Office, which is where he usually meets with foreign dignitaries. China has sought to interfere with the meeting as it does anytime the Dalai Lama goes abroad. China is putting pressure on Obama not to acknowledge the Dalai Lama once again, but so far Obama has only conceded by not meeting in the main room.
Wherever the Dalai Lama goes, messages from China’s government follow. The messages claim that he is a separatist and should not be heeded. The idea is to force countries not to listen to voices about China that are not part of the official propaganda, and to threaten countries that do choose to listen to other opinions about the country. Often times China will control the dialogue by leveraging money and trade deals in efforts to get countries to heed their financial interests and ignore civil and human rights violations.
The Dalai Lama’s D.C. trip included an appearance Monday at the United States Institute of Peace. He was there to speak with young people from regions plagued by terrorism, religious extremism, and other horrors. He spoke about a workshop they participated in designed to educate about resolving violence through peace.
As the Charlotte Observer reported, the Dalai Lama addressed a crowd about recent violence and how to respond with non-violence.
“American military power cannot change others’ mind or emotion. Only through friendship and affection.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told the public that the president respects Tibetan traditions and culture. The meeting between the two is not open to the media, but a photo on The White House’s Flickr account shows the two greeting each other inside the White House today.
Barack Obama Set to Meet His Holiness The Dalai Lama of #Tibet
— Darjeeling Chronicle (@TheDarjChron) June 15, 2016
Earnest revealed that the two Nobel Prize Laureates spoke about the Pulse nightclub shooting, according to Fox 5.
“The president thanked the Dalai Lama for his expression of condolences about the terrorist attack in Orlando over the weekend,” Earnest said.
In addition to the threats from China about countries interfering in its affairs, as it considers the Dalai Lama solely its own affair, China often sends out spies to monitor Tibetan rights activists in other countries. As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, networks of Chinese spies also monitor other groups overseas that China deems of interest, including democracy activists, Falun Gong adherents, Chinese Christian groups, Uighur activists, and people who advocate for human rights in China. Many of these spies are young university students who are approached by Chinese government officials before going abroad, and who carry out spy activities under the cover of seemingly harmless Chinese academic and community groups.
Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama on Wednesday is likely to address issues about Tibetans under Chinese rule that China would rather hide from the world. Human rights abuses haven’t ceased in Tibet ever since the Chinese Communist Party took control of the region in 1950, one year after it took control of China’s own government. Chinese kids are taught in school while growing up that China took control of Tibet under the communist leadership in order to “help” Tibet. And since news is tightly controlled in China, the populace rarely gets to hear the other side of the story.
Despite China’s constant pressure on countries who meet with the Dalai Lama, an army has yet to show up in China demanding freedom for Tibet. No countries have planned military action in an attempt to separate Tibet from China, and even the Dalai Lama tells Tibetans and people around the world to preserve traditions of non-violence. China’s fears and subsequent threats are regular, repetitious official babble that don’t cease even when they don’t fit the reality or current circumstances. The highly exaggerated worries of the CCP haven’t shut down the Dalai Lama’s D.C. trip activities nor managed to distort their intended message.
[Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]