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February 18, 2010
Dalai Lama meets Obama for private chat in Map Room

Today in Washington, D.C., President Obama welcomed the Dalai Lama to the White House.

It was described as a “muted” meeting — with neither a joint press conference nor public fanfare.

The administration’s low-key approach was aimed at not offending the Chinese government, which considers the Dalai Lama a separatist.

For more, Daljit Dhaliwal interviews Robert Barnett, director of the Modern Tibetan Studies Program at Columbia University.

Is the White House being too sensitive to China’s view of the Dalai Lama, and should President Obama have embraced him more publicly?

Tell us what you think in the comments section below. Please be respectful and on-point. Malicious or offensive comments will be deleted, and repeat offenders will be banned.

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Well put JoAllen!


To Jane:
I did not support the war in Iraq even though I fought in Desert Storm.
The 911 terrorists were not from Iraq nor were they really from Afganistan. They were Saudi Arabian terrorists who were deemed by the US Government to be “Islamic Terrorists.”

Taiwan is a free nation and with the United States militaries help they should remain free. One fact, China has thousands of short range missiles targeted at Taiwan.

Obama should have held a State Dinner for the Dalai Lama and invited the
Chinese ambassador to the event. America is not going to cower beneath the feet of China.

The innocent of Tibet are at war with China because China kills Tibetans who speak against Chinese rule.
From the comfort of you home in Jane its easy to think that the world is a
nice place; but, having spent the vast majority of my life outside of America I can tell you the world is not they pretty nor that nice.


In truth I don’t think the issue of Tibet should focus around the Dalai Lama. I was wrong to call for a war but when innicent people are dying it is human nature to want to protect them.
The focus should be the fact that thousands of innocent people have died for speaking their minds in Tibet. Tibet has been part of China for over 1000 years so why all the killing ? My question to you is what exactly will China listen to when it come to granting Tibet basic human rights ? I would prefer that the US revokes Chinas most favored nation status and link it to human rights in Tibet. Aa far as you slanderous statement I can see how it was justified in you liberal mind. But your anti-semitic statement have no place in this forum.


In the Dalai Lama’s mind, he is the lid over a boiling kettle, preventing his followers from taking up arms. Perhaps he fails to recognize that boiling water tends to make less noise when there is no lid, because there is a way to let off steam. The water is less out of touch with the outside world. The steam mixing with the outside air, allows more realistic negotiations to happen, rather then expecting Hollywood or McCarthy to grant, by magic, the Tibetans what they can tolerate.


P.S. to Kerry Masterson:

If a Buddhist monk’s rhetoric has propelled you to wish for a war because label certain human race as “inhuman dogs” as if they need to be slaughtered, it’s time for you to consult a psychiatrist for your anger and examine your logical thinking. The beauty of a strong defense is that it helps prevent war. Had the Taiwanese Chinese been at war with the mainland communist China continuously for the last 60 years, they would not have had the money to buy arms from us now. Think logically, calmly, beyond an emotional need to lash out– never abandon logic and reasoning before making ANY calls for war.


Kerry Masterson: Did you support the war against Iraq because of the WMD, and because of the “Iraqi’s guilt” in 9-11 also?
“…. the answer is blowing in the wind….
… the answer is blowing in the wind…” Remember that song?


China is not the first Country to imprison persons based upon their ethnicity or for speaking out against the government. Whats next for the people of Tibet “Death Camps” or will the Chinese just continue to slowly kill or imprison all who oppose them. The occupation of Tibet shows the barbaric and cunning ways of the Chinese Government. Women and even children are murdered for speaking their minds in Tibet. Life has no value when you have so many people to govern. As we sit here in the United States if our neighbors were being killed just for speaking out we would all rise up a stop that insanity. I hope one day when the world least expects the Dahli Lama calls his people to ams, along with the rest of humanity, and all the Chinese invaders are dealt with like the inhuman dogs that they are.


Shame on China. Don’t you (China) understand the law of Karma. Karma 101: You will get an painful reaction from your bad deeds in Tibet. Laugh now, but you will cry later!!!


#34 Ms. O’Kelly:
I believe you are both naive and lacking some critical information about the recent development between Taiwan and China after Taiwan defied Chinese demands not to meet with Dalai Lama, and obtained arms. After all those rhetoric, China is offering something called ECFA, a trade agreement to tear down trade barriers between Taiwan and China!! If the U.S. did not sell anti-missiles weapons to Taiwan, this would not have happened. US did not sell aggressive arms to Taiwan(even though they had requested them), only defensive arms, enough to fend off, or at least make it incredibly expensive for China if China were to invade Taiwan. That worked. Now, skeptics are saying that China might be luring Taiwan with very cheap trade deals, but plotting longterm to subvert Taiwan’s economy. Others see detente through trade can be accomplished successfully with tough negotiations. The results are clear: Obama did the right thing to sell anti-missile defense systems to Taiwan. Besides, US could realy use the billions and billions of dollars from Taiwan for buying our system. When is Israel going to learn from Taiwan and pay for their own arms and war, instead of relying on money from the United States to wage war but stay stubborn in refusing giving equal rights to other races? Perhaps we will be able to balance our budget then!


It is simply tit-for-tat for China not going along with Iran sanctions.


america is still super power and it does not have to lisent to china and america should help dalai lama to get his own land from china


#1 & #33 said it all. I being of Native American Background feel for the Tibetian people, they have had their lands taken from them just as mine did. We have to pay in order to go onto our land to pray (The Black Hills) and all the U.S. wants to due is pay us monies for the land…..if we are so broke where would they come up with the money, besides all we want is our land back as stated in the Treaties.


I think the President did it just right. He is a master at doing the ethical thing while at the same time limiting offense. The US depends upon China in so many ways as does China on us; however, His Holiness is one of the most respected religious leader in the world. I admire the fact that this meeting took place and I don’t think the Dalai Lama would have wanted a big splash. It got lots of coverage which was the right idea.


To what extent do The Robes, of any color, keep The Poor warm? (This is not intended as a criticism of the Dalai Lama, by any means, but is meant only as a universal and morally neutral question.)
Aristocratic Interpretations of Events and a Covering Of Robes over The Hidden Realities may never completely resolve the complexities involved in attempting to “untie” the Gordian Knot of Presupposed Truth. Alexander the Great may have cut such a Knot with a single swipe of his sword, but this legend–true or false–could not deny that this Knot represented, prior in Time to the cutting: the ever present Complexities that necessarily existed before, exist now, and will continue to exist. But keeping a Sword, which can resemble–when properly used–a clear and sharp Symbol of Precarious (yet more stable) Peace, nearby…shall, by reason of Present Realities, remain maintained not so much to produce new Ways of seeking Strife but to remember that the Knowledge of the Proper Use of the Sword is forever better than any Offensive Measures by which the Sword might be betrayed into serving a multitude of Lesser Purposes.


China is the one being too lenient on the Dalai Lama issue! It is time to stop financing American debt!


Obama is walking a fine line to try to do the right thing yet not harm cooperation on serious issues with China. I understand why he is moving slowly. This is a good step after Obama’s not meeting the Dalai Lama last year. More important is what Obama can do for human rights in Tibet. So, whether they meet privately or more publicly is not so important. Plus, there will be other opportunities for them to meet during Obama’s presidency and hopefully their meetings will be more public in the future. For now, I’m pleased with how Obama handled it.


As long as the U.S. Liberal Government insists on spending way above its’ means and using Chinese money to finance this insanity, we will have to kow-tow to their whims. Tibet should be free of Chinese rule but, unfortunately, the U.S. has lost it’s way and can no longer stand up for peoples such as the Tibetans. Obama is too busy apologizing to the world and spending like a drunken sailor.


I don’t agree with the # 26 david pogson. I think He need more research about Tibet. He is giving us a wrong information about Tibet and Dalai Lama. Read ‘THE STORY OF TIBET’ by Thomas Laird. How strong evil may blow, it will never extenguish the flame of truth. Whatever and however chinese lie, they can not cover up the truth.


More Public, many American would like to have seen him as much as the Pope in Rome. The Dali Lama is a Holyman and not a General. China please allow him Tibet,
much the same as the Italian’s allow
the Popes the Vatican. China if you showed more love and beleaved in something besides communisism
perhaps you would one day unite peacfully with Taiwan, but going around scareing the World with
your own dead Idology. China must learn to share and most of all, allow others their belifes and then you shall win over other good people and Nations.


I wonder if Obama’s “christianity” blinds him to the value of Buddhism.?


I have heard that the Chinese government invaded Tibet and set up its control there about 60 years ago. If this is true, then it appears that the Chinese government is trying to give orders to President Obama simply to defend their own aggression.


I don’t see any harm in the meeting, which is no more then a face saving gesture.


I’m quite glad President Obama met with the Dali Lama.
I taught in China in l986-87 and I greatly respect the Chinese. However, the Chinese should be ashamed of their colonization of Tibet. After all, the Chinese suffered from Western imperialism and occupation of their country in the l9th century. Yet, their occupation of Tibet is equally imperialistic. The Tibetans should have self-determination, not foreign domination with exploitation of their land and resources. The Chinese must remember their own history when they consider the Tibetan question–just as the United States might well remember its own poor relationship with its neighbor Cuba for the same reasons.
Sometimes large nations treat their nearest neighbors with terribly self-serving policies that are unjustly destructive and without any consideration for the ideals large nations propagate.


I think the White House struck a nice balance. Frankly, the Chinese have been demonizing the obvious *solution* to their problems in Tibet for the last 30 years in an almost irrational stubbornness. Their *problem* is with the old landowning aristocracy in Tibet. The Lama is not just an icon… he’s this *guy* who wants the common people of Tibet to have the best of their culture and be part of China in doing it. He’s threatened to resign when the old aristocracy resorted to violence a few years ago.

But no… the Chinese are fixed on demonizing the Lama because (like any other religion) they fear any notion of the people having loyalty to anything but The State. That’s about the only rationalization I can construct for their stubbornness.


The United States recognized China’s sovereignty over Tibet long before the Communists reasserted that sovereignty in 1950. No question the Tibetans are getting the worst of the deal, but not nearly as bad as the Palestinians get from Israel. If China is on our naughty list, Israel should be there too.


This useless meeting was typical of the hypocrisy that permeates the United States.


We are a free & independant nation which has the perfect right to greet a guest with overt open arms if we so choose, but if this creates an offense to our friend we must be wise & mature enough to tread the path of consideration in order to keep our friend from believing we are not sensitive to his feelings. This is what the President did & even though I am not a democrat it was the correct thing to do.


The Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader, much like the pope, and should be accorded the same respect and protocol such leaders deserve, no matter if one agrees with their philosophy or not. A much bigger issue here is that “we” are selling arms, possibly fighter jets, to Taiwan. Perhaps if we got out of the arms business, we could take a more active role in promoting human rights here and abroad.


President Obama makes me proud on most accounts to be an American; however, in my opinion, the Dalai Lama is up there with Nelson Mandela, Bishop Tutu, Gandhi and similarly saintly folks who have fought for the rights of their people and have showed the world what bravery is about. I imagine were the Chinese to protest his meeting any of these good people the President would have been less willing to be so private in his meeting. I met the Dalai Lama this summer in Ladakh after much determined effort and feel my life has been blessed by even a brief meeting with this wise man. I find it disappointing that my President who I will continue to admire on so many other fronts would hide such a meeting. I know the politics, but I can not believe after a little furor things would die down and the world in all of its zig zag ways would continue.


Pure political show. No meaningful results other than further raise tension between the US and China.


i should vote republican..


What would be if China invites the representative of the American indians repeatedly? Unfortunately they don’t have a voice in this country and China also would be more respectful on national interests than the US. If the US wants to pledge for tibetian interests, then it should first give the people who were robbed of this country more rights. Pointing on other countries cruel doesn’t make your own disappear, although it seems like in todays policies.


I dislike having to agree with anyone but I must admit that #1 Larry has it just about right.


For America to cow-tow to China signals the end of the American Empire and the rise of the Chinese one. Tibet has been its own country for hundreds of years before China invaded to have the high valleys to from which to launch missiles. The Dalai Lama is the spiritual leader and head of state. Still, he has expressed willingness to accept the annexation of his country by China if his people could practice their own religion and pick their own leaders. China is a theocracy of atheism. China’s government fears religion because a faith in a Power greater than the State makes people courageous and unafraid. Theocracies are always bad, whether of atheism or some other equally backward conceit.


Did I hear something everyone missed? Oh he said it. So how long is it until the Chinese have Aircraft Carriers docking here in NYC? We dock one they’ll dock 10. We could use the tourism!


A big mistake by Obama to meet this phony Dalai Lama. Everyone should be aware of the History behind China’s takeover of Tibet. Briefly, the Dalai Lama and his thugs considered themselves as ‘Royalty’ in Tibet and treated the tibetians as mere serfs. China decided this could not stand and took over. The Dalai Lama was offered the position of religious head with no political power, which he accepted. Half a cake is better than no cake. Then the CIA came calling and offered the Dalai Lama a deal, millions of dollars if he would go into self imposed exile. The Dalai Lama took the money and ran. He has been ‘Swanning’ around the World in his Claret and Gold robes on the US taxpayers dollars ever since, always trying to poke China in the eye with a sharp stick, as per the CIA’s instructions.
This is not a story the USA is anxious to be made public, but it can be substantiated with careful digging. Along with the arms deal to Taiwan, Obama is digging a deep hole for himself from which he will not be able to climb out. These careless decisions will only serve to benefit China, NOT the USA. My former high opinion of the American President is dwindling rapidly. Seems like ‘all hat and no cattle’ as they say in Texas.


The government never worried about anyone’s opinion when they gave aid and comfort to: the Shaw Of Iran; Marcos of the Phillipines; Batista of Cuba, and they were all corrupt US puppets. At least the Dali is an honest, good person, probably the only one in Washington on that day.


No American President, not even back in the 1970s under Nixon and Kissinger, had any “large stick” nor carrot to use on China. US needed China to contain the threat of the former Soviet Union in the 1970s, hence the failure to recognize Taiwan as an independant country, separate from China.

Ironically, Taiwan is one of the 2 countries in 2009, who did not cave in under the mainland Chinese government and met with Dalai Lama. This happened when many European countries caved in, and despite a longstanding vague military threat, and overt threats of economic boycott from China. This happened because buddhism is strong in Taiwan, and a significant electorate of Taiwan strongly desired Dalai Lama’s visit after their historical rainstorm and flood in August.

In the United States, outside Tibetans, the Dalai is a spiritual leader of Hollywood type folks, but not really a large number of the electorate or population. That’s a big difference.

Taiwan has a true democracy, with bona fide dual parties, with distinctly different political platforms. Taiwan has an indigenous Taiwanese Chinese, as well as Han Chinese who, for a long time, claimed to have legitimate right to rule China because “communists” invaded their land.

Taiwan has a strong economy, its own military that has, to date, fended off the constant threat of Communist invasion. It has a modern educational system and successful healthcare structure. Still, The United States has not supported it to be a separate state, for reason too numerous to be listed here. In contrast, Tibet does not have the economy, military, a modern educational or healthcare system, NOR a democratic separation of religious rule from political rule, to challenge the rule of the mainland Chinese government. So no western country can conceive any practical effect on a successful rule by Tibet by a Dalai Lam( or his successor, if one is ever successfully appointed) based on the current situation. Encouraging the local Tibetans to chant Dalai’s name would be no different than encouraging local chinese to chant KMT/Taiwanese former military leaders’ names in China– that is doomed to bring on useless suffering. For these reasons, for Obama to encourage, facilitate, and promote dialog, is the most sensible, practical course of actions he can do for the Tibetans.

Dalai Lama has never acted as a practical leader, like the Taiwanese government has. The Dalai Lama’s rhetoric has always been inspirational for Hollywood type folks who have lots of money and looking for ways to promote an image of being heroes to match the fictional on-screen image. But for Asia, where a significantly large percentage of folks are still concerned with basic, practical necessities in lives, the Dalai Lama has never done anything practical(that is sorely needed) other than what’s technically called “political rhetoric”. The Dalai Lama does not have what it takes to be a political leader of a government in a practical way in this modern world. Instead, he has become a shrewd and extremely successful retreat master, of sorts, for those highly stressed by the modern western world, and want a spiritual retreat.

I think the Dalai Lam realized the modern reality when he proposed some measure to transform the concept of dalai lama into something like the Queen of England– a figure head, but the real power is in an elected prime minister. However, no country has ever succeeded in transforming a monarchy into a constitutional monarchy after the monarch had already been disposed militarily, exiled, and has no heir.

THAT is the crux of the Tibetans’ plight. Had their leader been strong like in Taiwan, and not made some ignorant decisions around 1950s, to hand over arms spontaneously and voluntarily out of sheer ignorance of what communism represents( Dalai had never heard of Karl Marx, let alone read about Marxism’s theories on religion back then, and made horrible political decisions). If I were Tibetan, I cannot honestly say that given Dalai Lama’s track record of ruling Tibet, that he is a reasonable leader that a rational voter should vote for, even if there is a democracy there. How could I have voted for somebody who was appointed at 3 years of age as a demi-god, but turns out completely ignorant about all practical matters so historically monumental to his ruling?


8 &9 #}you’er right
Nothing special to welcome the Dalai- Lama.
No W.H.ceremeny just slip him in one [Back ROOM] Obama to sensitive to China wishes …or is he bowing to CHINA ?? Again. OBAMA ..human right’s phony or the real deal…time will tell ?


Barack Obama’s meeting with Dalai Lama, and the earlier U.S. announcement of weapon sales to Taiwan, are certainly two sharp poking strokes against Beijing. The U.S. hates China but it grudgingly deals with it because it is a rising power both economically and militarily. And China spreads its wealth, and invests heavily in projects in many countries around the world unconditionally. And that is in sharp contrast to the U.S. projects around the world which have always been pre-conditioned on control of the government that received any U.S. aid – like Pakistan now, Latin America before, and so on. And that cuts into the U.S. influence. Any nation that needs aid for development, but doesn’t want to assign control of its military and its secrets services to commanders recommended by the U.S., or to allow the U.S. military bases on its soil and unconditional used of its airspace to get that aid, can just turn to China and get that aid without compromising its sovereignty.

And that means that the U.S. hates losing that monopoly upon which its global influence was based. And that is also why the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the financial control arm of the U.S., which was considered a curse in underdeveloped countries, has also lost is luster, and it is heading into oblivion. And with China, India and Brazil providing funding to many countries without suffocating terms – like the IMF’s, the U.S. influence is slipping. The U.S. still excels in the war front, but the near collapse the U.S. economy has proved that the future belongs to economic development, because wars today do not bring home the riches of the colonial era.

The U.S., therefore, surely hates China for its global economic power, and also worry about China’s modernized military, and for China’s thwarting of its efforts to punish Iran and Sudan with U.N. Sanctions. And on this desperate inability of the U.S. to slow downs China’s global influence, and on its fruitless efforts to force China to bow to its wishes and allows it to us the U.N. Security Council for its own concerns, Dalai Lama is used by the U.S. as a prong to give it some sweet revenge against the Chinese leadership! Nikos Retsos, retired professor


I feel the meeting should have been more public. China has had the freedom to almost dictate to the United States while at the same time refuting all other countries requests. In regards to pollution, currency manipulation, sanctions, human rights, and a doczen other issues.
It’s time the U.S. realizes they don’t care what the world says. Ergo, the world, and specifically the US, shouldn’t care what China says.


Human rights are of utmost importance and should be defended and addressed at all costs. Diplomacy is a way of “mollifying” the bully to minimize retaliation. Effective actions/solutions in supporting human and civil rights can be protected and ehhanced by diplomacy.


I am happy that Obama agreed to meet with H.H., but wish we lived in a world where we could ignore bullies like China. Their paranoia and whining about H.H. only makes them look bad and seem guilty…you know “thou dos’t protest too much.” As a whole, I think the entire world has worried too much about what China thinks (for 50+ years), we have all abandoned Tibet. China is very lucky that Tibetans have put up with this with such dignity and compassion. China can only thank H.H. for the lack of violence Tibetans have offered, they certainly would be understood if they did respond with retaliation.


I personally would like to have seen more of the Dalai Lama’s visit and I resent the fact that the Chinese can rule our actions in this way.


Is diplomacy important then the human rights?
Is money important then the honesty ? Where is united states stands? show up ? hide and seek ?


Tibetans have a dispute with China: China stole Tibetan lands, homes, cultural artifacts and destroyed Tibetan lives and dignity. If China wants to play a role in world affairs, chinese leaders must learn to respect others. Tibetans can hope for a better change after meeting President Obama.


… additional comment: Obama looked inspired and was singing along to these songs at the White House last week, all the more reason to have the COURAGE TO SPEAK UP!!
“Someday we’ll all be Free”, “Eyes on the Prize”, “I wish I knew how it would feel to be Free”, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me round”..


… additional comment: Obama looked inspired and was singing along to these songs at the White House last week, all the more reason to have the COURAGE TO SPEAK UP!!
“Someday we’ll all be Free”, “Eyes on the Prize”, “I wish I knew how it would feel to be Free”, “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me round”..


China is acting like a bully. It reminds me of a play ground squabble where a bully would try to threaten others, telling them not to be friends with the other group. What a shame that they will tell another nation who to be friends with.
Kanta Bhagat


Obama is willing to say or meet with anyone,, including the Dalia Lama, just to take attention off of America’s main problems that he has been creating: the trillions of dollars of debt he has unfairly placed on us, our children, and grandchildren!


Our president has unfortunately not championed freedom around the world — not in Iran nor in China — so his very “muted” meeting with the Dalai Lama is wholly consistent.


The US is uniquely poised to help Tibet gain is freedom from China, with out resorting to violence of any kind. FREE TIBET!


Obama is surely the President who should understand the importance of making a stand about human rights. Last week he hosted the music of the Civil Rights Movement at the White House, but I wish he was walking the walk more. I’m disappointed that he didn’t take this opportunity to have a more high profile meeting including a press conference: It’s all about supporting human rights by such actions, but as the consumate diplomat, using diplomacy to appease the bully (China) when necessary – ironic that the president that had the best rapport with the Dalai Lama as George W!


Really Obama! While you cower and curtsey beneath the feet of China Tibetans are killed just for speaking the name “Dalai Lama.” I am frightened by the fact that a US president is having meeting with the Dalai Lama in what the bathroom-stalls of the west wing. We elected you to lead our Nation now to cower and slither before China. Obama, you can’t pass health care, you conspired with the banks so that the defaulted loans are not report as losses— thats the only reason banks are showing a profit, and now you are showing the whole world just was a weak and
submissive President the US has. Its time to be a man not a politician.


For many years I supported efforts to help Tibet. At some point, I realized that I was encouraging Tibetans to place themselves in danger and there was no possibility that the US would actually help them – another Hungarian Uprising. The Dalai Lama is a great man and rational leader. Chinese leadership is terrified of him. The Dalai Lama has a working solution for Tibet and China, which the Chinese government should accept with changes to satisfy their side. In the meantime, US support of the Dalai Lama does no harm.


Despite the reality that we have a huge trade imbalance with China and that they have nearly a trillion dollars of our debt, we should not compromise on the issue of Tibet. That country was stolen by China in 1950 for its own use. They claim that they liberated Tibet from feudalism, but wasn’t it up to Tibetans to free themselves from oppression?


THR CHINESE PERFORMED A CRIMINAL ACT. they marched into tibet and annexed the country.
yes, it should have been a public meeting.



The Dalai Lama was the legitimate leader of Tibet until he was overthrown by the Chinese. They are the bad guys, not him. He deserves a better reception by our country!


I agree with Larry – well said. It should be remembered that China has done to Tibet what the Soviet Union did to Eastern Europe.



You get to employ a carrot + stick approach when you are talking. When you isolate, it’s just stick. So the opposite side hardens, and 3rd parties don’t come over to your side of the matter — saw a cool site; Balkingpoints ; incredible satellite view of earth


If we really believe that we have freedom of speech in America, and that we are mature enough to do our own thinking on international processes,we should be able to politely tell China that our business is our own and that we need not do what they tell us….
We can visit with whomever we decide and for our own reasons without fear of outside interference.
If we caved in to to do what they think the right way for us to act would be an opening of weakness on our part. Telling how we feel and actions should be done in a very quiet, calm and mature communication.We should be able to be plainly understood and respected.

Like a president said, speak softly and carry a large stick.

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