Dalai Lama: U.S. a ‘Champion of Democracy, Freedom, Human Values’

After his meeting with President Barack Obama, the Dalai Lama told reporters Thursday outside the White House that the two leaders discussed promoting peace, humanitarian values, religious harmony and the need for more women in leadership roles.

The exiled Tibetan spiritual leader said he told President Obama about his lifelong admiration for the United States as a “champion of democracy, freedom, human values” and creativity.

Watch the Dalai Lama’s remarks:

The White House said in a statement that Mr. Obama and the Dalai Lama agreed on the importance of a cooperative U.S.-China relationship, with the president urging direct dialogue between China and Tibet.

Although the meeting was considered largely symbolic, and took place in the Map Room rather than the more official Oval Office, it was expected to add to already tense relations with China.

The visit, heralded by fireworks from Tibetans, also provoked words of protest from the Chinese government.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement issued after the meeting and reported in Xinhua that the visit “violated the U.S. government’s repeated acceptance that Tibet is a part of China and it does not support Tibetan independence.”

However, with U.S.-China relations already strained over a $6 billion arms sale to Taiwan and other areas of disagreement, some analysts say the meeting with the Tibetan leader wouldn’t likely have a significant impact on relations.

“Every time the Dalai Lama comes to Washington, all sorts of threats and warnings are made [by China], and at least in the past, there hasn’t been much follow-through on those. And so I doubt if given the relatively mediocre to weak state of U.S.-China relations right now that this is going to change things much one way or the other,” said Donald Lopez, professor of Buddhist and Tibetan studies at the University of Michigan.

Hear Lopez’s interview with deputy senior producer of foreign affairs Daniel Sagalyn:


We’ll have more about the Dalai Lama’s visit and Sino-U.S. relations on Thursday’s PBS NewsHour.