President Barack Obama will meet exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama at the White House on Friday in a show of concern about China’s human rights practices.
Obama’s midmorning session with the Dalai Lama may well draw a reprimand from China, which views him as a violent separatist because he seeks more autonomy for Tibet.
In what appeared to be a small concession to the Chinese, Obama will see the Dalai Lama in the White House Map Room, a historically important room but of less significance than the Oval Office, the president’s inner sanctum.
But the fact the meeting is taking place at all reflects U.S. concerns about a wide range of Chinese activities from human rights practices to territorial tensions in the East China Sea. Obama’s U.S. strategic pivot, or rebalancing, toward Asia is seen as a reaction to the growing clout of China.
This may be nitpicky but I’m sort of here for that. As the modern media wonks like to put it, the optics aren’t the greatest here. China’s human rights abuses have been a problem seemingly forever. Yes, it’s good that he’s getting around to at least some weak theater regarding them.
Sure, there were some comments and I get that the president has a schedule that is set way in advance but, for Heaven’s sake, the response to the Ukrainian and Venezuelan uprisings has been so tepid overall that Bob Menendez actually had to be the voice of reason.
An occasional adult presence would be nice.