US President Barack Obama’s friendly greeting to the Dalai Lama at a religious event in Washington is expected to prompt a good deal of finger-wagging from Beijing, which has time and time again said that it opposes any country meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
While Obama didn’t meet with the Dalai Lama directly, he gave him a shout-out at an annual prayer breakfast in Washington, where the president spoke about religious freedom in front of an audience in which the Buddhist monk was present, according to Reuters.
Obama, who greeted the Buddhist monk with a bow-like gesture, called him “a good friend” and “a powerful example of what it means to practice compassion and who inspires us to speak up for the freedom and dignity of all human beings.”
[…] Obama nodded and smiled at the Dalai Lama, waving after clasping his hands to greet the spiritual leader as the event began. Organizers also recognized the monk, prompting applause.
Before the event, state-run newspaper Xinhua ran an editorial warning, fruitlessly it would seem, against “chumming” with the Dalai Lama, whom China considers a separatist.
“Chumming with a secessionist is playing with fire, which severely harms the mutual trust between China and the United States,” the commentary said, adding that “What lies under their hypocritical relationship is nothing but political deals and cold calculations.” Ouch.
While Obama has met privately with the Dalai Lama three times, this is the first time they’ve attended the same public event. Last February, the two had talks at the White House in a meeting that the Chinese Foreign Ministry said “seriously interfered” in China’s internal affairs.