China Irked by Obama-Dalai Lama Meeting

POLITICS

President Barack Obama recently met with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, despite China’s appeal not to do so. (CNN)

Use our resources to better understand the conflict surrounding Tibet.

President Barack Obama mets with the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House on February 21, 2014.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

President Barack Obama mets with the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House on February 21, 2014. 
Official White House Photo by Pete Souza

Discussion Ideas

  • Read through this terrific Christian Science Monitor article on Chinese reaction to the Dalai Lama-Obama meeting. Then read our short section on “How Diplomacy Works,” focusing on sanctions. How has China historically reacted to world leaders recognizing the Dalai Lama? How has this reaction changed relations between China and targeted nations?
    • China has used very direct language for nations with leaders that meet with the Dalai Lama. Just this week, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said “any country bent on impairing China’s interests will find its own interests are hurt in the end.”
    • China has consistently enforced diplomatic sanctions on nations that hold summit meetings with the Dalai Lama. According to the encyclopedic entry, “[d]iplomatic sanctions involve the reduction or removal of all embassy staff from the offending country. Lighter diplomatic sanctions may involve the refusal of a president to visit the offending country or meet with its leaders.”
    • China’s diplomatic sanctions have had a very mild impact. The CSM article mentions the UK, Germany and Lithuania as being recent targets of some form of diplomatic sanctions from China following meetings with the Dalai Lama. All relations were quickly restored, and all three nations maintained or even increased their economic ties to China during that time period.

Editor’s Note: Events are unfolding, fast and furious, in Ukraine. President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from office and fled the capital, and parliament has issued a warrant for his arrest. Lawmakers and opposition leaders are working to prevent all-out civil war. The BBC has outstanding, ongoing coverage of crisis in Ukraine, and this blog post might help shape classroom discussions on the topic.

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