What you need to know
The Obama-Dalai Lama meeting draws a predictable response from Beijing.
As U.S. President Barack Obama prepares to meet the Dalai Lama at the White House today, Beijing is already issuing dire warnings to Washington.
During a regular press conference on June 14, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Lu Kang (陸慷) requested that all governments refuse “space and soil” to the Dalai Lama and "follow the wishes of the 1.3 billion Chinese people." Lu added that the spiritual leader promotes Tibetan independence under the facade of religion.
Le Taowen, the representative from Liaoning Province in Utah and professor at Weber State University, also spoke out against the Dalai Lama’s visit, warning Utah legislators not to meet the Dalai Lama when he speaks at the University of Utah lest the relationship between Liaoning and Utah be jeopardized, Deseret News reported.
Many Tibetans feel Beijing suppresses the local Buddhist religion and culture. At least 143 ethnic Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009 to protest Chinese rule, according to Amnesty International.
China has warned the U.S. to refrain from supporting "separatist activities." Although the U.S. says Tibet is part of China, each meeting President Obama has had with the spiritual leader has sparked anger in Beijing.
Despite the pressure from the Chinese government, the Dalai Lama seems to enjoy a warm relationship with members of the American government.
He has already met members of the House and Senate on this trip, including House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi. After discussing the situation in Tibet with the Dalai Lama, Pelosi told NHK that all those who love freedom must speak out against the oppression of the Tibetan people. Pelosi led a congressional delegation to Tibet in 2015 and offered greetings at Dalai Lama’s public talk in the American University on June 13, the International Campaign for Tibet says.
According to a press release from the Tibetan government in exile, the Dalai Lama has called for the Congressional Leadership's continued support for his efforts, reiterating that he considered Tibet to be "occupied land."