Washington — President Barack Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama sent a “powerful message” with the two leaders discussing human rights, Tibet’s prime minister-in-exile said Friday after the White House talks.
“It sends a very powerful message to Tibetans inside Tibet because it gives them a sense of hope that their voices are heard, even by the most powerful person in the world,” prime minister-in-exile Lobsang Sangay told AFP.
“The respect shown to His Holiness by President Obama means a lot to Tibetans all over the world, particularly inside Tibet,” he said.
Sangay, who was elected to the new position in 2011 after the Dalai Lama said he was retiring from his political role, said that Obama asked the spiritual leader about the human rights plight of Tibetans living under Chinese rule.
Sangay said that the Dalai Lama told Obama he was committed to the “Middle Way” of peacefully seeking greater autonomy within China.
China denounced Obama for meeting the Dalai Lama, accusing the Nobel Peace Prize winner — who has lived in exile in India since 1959 — of pursuing a separatist agenda.
Sangay said that China’s criticism was an “artificial stance,” adding: “They know His Holiness is not a ‘splittist’; they know it very well.”
“As His Holiness always says, what we do is not anti-China. So this meeting should be seen in that context. Because what we seek is genuine autonomy within China,” he said.
“We want to see an end to repression of Tibetans and thereby are willing not to seek separation from China. This is a win-win proposition for China and the Chinese government,” he said.