After weeks of warnings from China, US President Barack Obama met with the Dalai Lama in the White House today.
It's funny how China vehemently protested, threatening to impose sanctions and such, considering Obama had told senior Chinese leaders directly in November that he would meet the Tibetan spiritual leader.
The US ignored the angry protestations in an attempt to stand up to what many analysts are describing is China's growing arrogance.
The Obama administration also tried hard to keep the meeting as low-key as possible, having the meeting in the Map Room, not the Oval Office, and keeping media out. A photograph of the two was released shortly after, taken by Pete Souza. The Dalai Lama also met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department.
After meeting the president, the Dalai Lama met with reporters and even tossed snow at them, revealing his mischievous side, as he is born in the Year of the Monkey.
Later US Press Secretary Robert Gibbs released the following statement:
The President met this morning at the white House with his Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama. The President stated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People's Republic of China. The President commended the Dalai Lama's "Middle Way" approach, his commitment to nonviolence and his pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government. The President stressed that he has consistently encouraged both sides to engage in direct dialogue to resolve differences and was pleased to hear about the recent resumption of talks. The President and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of a positive and cooperative relationship between the United States and China.
Meanwhile China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement: "The US act grossly violated the norms governing the international relations, and ran counter to the principles set forth in the three China-US joint communiques and the China-US joint statement," he said.
The statement on the ministry website also said the meeting went against the repeated commitments by the US government that the US recognizes Tibet as part of China and gives no support to "Tibet independence," he said. Ma demanded that the US seriously consider China's stance and immediately adupt measures to "wipe out the baneful impact and stop conniving and supporting anti-China separatist forces that seek 'Tibetan independence.'"
China's ranting and raving is futile, but it hopes that the strong language will provoke the US to step down.
However, every other American president has met the Tibetan spiritual leader before, so why not now?
China sounds more like a petulant child than a mature, rising power.