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When two Nobel laureates irritated China

Last updated on: February 19, 2010 11:46 IST

When two Nobel laureates irritated China

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Seeking a 'meaningful' autonomy for Tibet, the Dalai Lama on Thursday asked China to shed its one-sided approach and adopt a more holistic view on the issue, even as Beijing lashed out at the United States, terming its engagement with him as a gross violation of international norms.

US President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama, both Nobel Peace Prize laureates, met away from cameras in the White House Map Room in what is being billed as low-key meeting.

Obama commended the Dalai Lama's 'middle way approach' in resolving the vexed Tibetan issue ignoring strong Chinese objections.

After his meeting with Obama, the Dalai Lama said he wanted a 'meaningful, sort of, autonomy so that we can preserve Tibetan unique culture and heritage, including our own language.'

"I think I want to tell the Chinese leadership, I think we should think every issue more holistic view," the Nobel Peace Prize winner told mediapersons after meeting Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Text: Lalit K Jha in Washington, DC for PTI

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Image: The Dalai Lama speaks to US President Obama at Map Room in White House on Thursday
Photographs: White House handout photograph
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US has grossly violated international norms: China

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China, meanwhile, launched a tirade against the US, summoning American Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman to lodge solemn representations over the meeting.

"The US act grossly violated norms governing the international relations, and ran counter to the principles set forth in the three China-US joint communiques and China-US joint statement," he said, adding, the meeting went against US' repeated commitments of recognising Tibet as part of China and giving no support to 'Tibet independence.'

The Dalai Lama said Tibet has a tradition of a thousand years, so has China, but the 'new revolution' like 'cultural rules' during that period had deliberately destroyed traditional Chinese values, including Buddhism.

"So as a result, now today, idea of whole society, of whole community, without much, I would say, moral principle so, so much corruption," he said.

 

 


Image: The Dalai Lama speaks to mediapersons after meeting with Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Photographs: Joshua Roberts / Reuters
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'Chinese policy on Tibet..looks very childish'

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"I think we should think every issue with a more holistic view. Then they get fuller knowledge about the reality. Just looking at any problem from one side, you can't see the reality fully. Then your approach becomes unrealistic. So that's why some Chinese policy, to some people, looks very childish," he said.

He said the Communists, particularly the 'hardliners' in China had a problem of looking through 'just one angle.'

Earlier after his a little over-an-hour long meeting with the Dalai Lama, Obama renewed his support for the preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and protection of human rights of Tibetans.

Besides Obama, the meeting was also attended by Valerie Jarrett, Jeff Bader (senior director for Asian Affairs, National Security Council) and Evan Medeiros (Director for Asian Affairs, National Security Council).


Image: A follower of the Dalai Lama cries after they were greeted by him outside of his hotel
Photographs: Joshua Roberts / Reuters
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'US commends the Dalai Lama's middle way approach'

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"The US president commended the Dalai Lama's middle way approach, his commitment to nonviolence and his pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement after the meeting.

"The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of a positive and cooperative relationship between the United States and China," Gibbs said.

Dalai Lama's meeting with Clinton at Foggy Bottom was also attended by Under Secretary Maria Otero, who is also the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues; Assistant Secretary Kurt Campbell, and Deputy Assistant Secretary David Shear.

Clinton welcomed the Dalai Lama's report on the ongoing dialogue which was recently renewed with China, and encouraged the Dalai Lama in his commitment to non-violence and pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government, while expressing US's support for the preservation of Tibetan culture and identity.


Image: The Dalai Lama escorted in White House by Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall
Photographs: Jason Reed / Reuters
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'Obama is quite young, energetic, tall'

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Visibly impressed by the US president, the Dalai Lama described him as 'quite young, energetic, tall.' He said besides Tibet, he also discussed other international issues with Obama.

"I actually mentioned it is almost my duty to report to the president of greatest democratic country about my two commitments about promotion of human value and promotion of religious harmony then thirdly, about Tibet," he said.

He said he also spoke to Obama briefly about his side's latest contact with Chinese officials and added it was a mutual decision to not meet before his China visit last year.

"(Then) he (was) determined to engage (China) more seriously. So at that time we also felt better not (to) meet," he said after the meeting during which he also discussed with Obama the significance of an Afro-American head of state.


Image: The Dalai Lama greets supporters outside of his hotel
Photographs: Joshua Roberts / Reuters
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'In political field, Obama is my boss..'

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"So there, I also mentioned that since 2001, we already have elected political leadership. So in the political field, he is my boss. In the spiritual field, I'm his boss," the Dalai Lama said.

He said he narrated to Obama his reaction on hearing the news about his election as the president when he was in Pune. "I also mentioned to him, when his election victory was announced, I was in Pune, on Gandhian sort of meeting international Gandhian meeting... Then someone informed to that gathering, now Obama wins. Oh, then everybody stand... (clapped)," he recalled.

"Though some Indians might have little bit of reservation about America now, but at that time, everybody really expressed their joyfulness. So I felt, his election victory, not only... of American people, but also many parts of the world is really appreciating that. So that, also, you see, brings more greater responsibility," the Dalai Lama said.


Image: The Dalai Lama touches the snow as he walks outside the White House
Photographs: Yuri Gripas / Reuters
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