Last April, after the Dalai Lama–the spiritual leader of Tibet–announced his intention to travel to the United States in October, the Communist Chinese gave President Barack Obama a stern warning against meeting with him. Chinaâ€™s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu made it quite clear that the Chinese, who invaded Tibet and have ruled it with an iron fist since 1950:
Firmly oppose the Dalai’s engagement in separatist activities in any country under whatever capacity and under whatever name. We have made representations to the United States urging the U.S. to honor its commitments and not allow the Dalai to engage in separatist activities in the United States.
This is not the first time the Chinese have threatened another country over meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader.
Last year, the Chinese issued a similar threat to French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The French President was not intimidated, however, and did not hesitate to meet with the Dalai Lama, dismissing Chinese objections as unfounded. â€œThe Dalai Lama,â€ said Sarkozy, â€œis not dangerous and is a man of peace.â€ The Chinese retaliated by cancelling a major economic summit with the European Union and organized a boycott of French products.
Sarkozy did the right thing and the French maintained their pride in the face of Chinese economic retaliation.
How has Barack Obama, President of the United States and leader of the free world, dealt with the same Chinese threat? Did he emulate Sarkozy and put human rights before economic blackmail?
He did not.
He has capitulated and is going to do what the Chinese communists have told him to do.
For the first time since 1991, the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama will visit Washington this week and not meet with the Presidentâ€¦the Obama administrationâ€™s decision to postpone the meeting appears to be part of a strategy to improve ties with China that also includes soft-pedaling criticism of Chinaâ€™s human rights and financial policies, as well as backing efforts to elevate Chinaâ€™s position in international institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund.
We should note that this is the same Barack Obama who has already met with such champions of human rights as Hugo Chavez, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, perpetual Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Vladimir Putin, and Daniel Ortega. Indeed it is the same Barack Obama who has offered to meet with Iranâ€™s Jew-hating president Mahmoud Ahmadenijad and North Koreaâ€™s demented Marxist dictator Kim Jung Il.Â Â But now he has acceded to Chinese demands, broken ranks with his predecessors and told the Dalai Lama to take a hike.
Donâ€™t be surprised by this.
As early as last February, Obama had already emboldened the Chinese when he had Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton inform them during her trip to Beijing that the United States would not let Chinaâ€™s abysmal human rights record interfere with â€œU.S.-China cooperation,â€ especially in economic matters.
The Tibetans, for their part, know whatâ€™s going on. Tibetâ€™s prime minister-in-exile, Samdhong Rinpoche, lamented the United Statesâ€™ appeasement of China in light of the latter’s growing economic might:
Today, economic interests are much greater than other interests.
Sophie Richardson, Asia advocate for Human Rights Watch, warned:
This idea that if you are nice to the Chinese Communist Party up front you can cash in later is just wrong. If you lower the bar on human rights they will just move it lower and lower.
Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA), an outspoken critic of China’s human rights record, wondered:
What would a Buddhist monk or Buddhist nun in Drapchi prison think when he heard that President Obama, the president of the United States, is not going to meet with the Dalai Lama? It’s against the law to even have a picture of the Dalai Lama. I can almost hear the words of the Chinese guards saying to them that nobody cares about you in the United States.
Obama, however, has already made his choice, and unlike Sarkozyâ€™s, itâ€™s nothing to be proud of.