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.
- Why does China care if President Obama meets with the Dalai Lama? Read our media spotlight on the Dalai Lama, “Rebirth of a spiritual and political controversy,” for some help. (The quotes in the “Fast Facts” are especially relevant.)
- Tibet is a part of China, and the Dalai Lama is an exiled Tibetan leader who supports much more autonomy for Tibet than China is willing to grant. The conflict over Tibetan autonomy has been violent, with hundreds of Tibetans protesting Chinese rule and even killing themselves (by setting themselves on fire) as an act of dissent.
- China has accused the Dalai Lama and the rest of the Tibetan government-in-exile of being separatists, and even terrorists. It is on these grounds—world leaders should not meet with terrorists—that the Chinese government objects to the Dalai Lama’s meeting with President Obama.
- 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.