Reuters blog archive
U.S. President Barack Obama will meet the Dalai Lama on Thursday after avoiding a get-together before his China trip last year. The White House visit by the Tibetan Buddhist leader comes at a time of increased tension between the United States and China, which has warned that the session will hurt Sino-U.S. ties.
Since 1990 every U.S. president has met the Dalai Lama at the White House. President George H.W. Bush started the tradition after the Chinese authorities crushed student-led pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989 and an uprising in Tibet.
Is this a meeting Obama could do without? Will it help him burnish his human rights credentials? Examine these and other questions about the visit in this question-and-answer piece from our Washington bureau.
The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Paul Knitter is the Paul Tillich Professor of Theology, World Religions and Culture at Union Theological Seminary in New York.Matthew Weiner is Program Director at the Interfaith Center of New York.
By Paul Knitter and Matthew Weiner
In 1893, the Chicago Parliament of World Religions was convened to gather the world’s faiths together for the first time. The organizers had a subversive message they kept hidden from invited speakers from non-Christian traditions: Christianity is the one true faith. They assumed that if all the faiths had a chance to speak publicly to the world, it would be obvious that Christianity was superior. But things didn’t go as planned. As it turned out, the Hindu representative Swami Vivikananda from India stole the show, convincing everyone that Hinduism was as valid a way to worship and experience the divine as any other. The state of the world’s religions was changed forever and the interfaith era had its symbolic beginning.
from Changing China:
[A volunteer on the outskirts of Beijing in a campaign urging Obama to honour promises and ensure the U.S. plays a key role in climate change negotiations. Pic by Jason Lee.]
U.S. President Barack Obama hopes to win over a sometimes wary Chinese public at a "townhall" meeting in Shanghai on Monday, inviting questions from young people and also -- the White House hopes -- reaching out across the Internet to the country's some 300 million Internet users.
But Obama better prepare for some combative, and outright odd, quizzing, to judge from Chinese Internet web sites that have begun inviting people to suggest questions to lob at Obama.
from Oddly Enough Blog:
Blog Guy, I see the Dalai Lama is in Washington, DC. He gets to meet all the biggies when he travels, right?
Yes. In the combo shot below you can see him with Presidents George Bush in 2007 and Bill Clinton in 1998, and the current leaders of France, Britain and Germany. Oh, and this week with Senator John McCain, the recent Republican candidate for president.
from Tales from the Trail:
Iran is the topic at the Senate Banking Committee, where officials from the State and Treasury departments are set to testify on economic sanctions against Tehran.
Afghanistan is expected to be front and center when President Barack Obama briefs congressional leaders about his Afghan strategy.
from Oddly Enough Blog:
Blog Guy, I need your business advice, quickly! I know this is gonna sound like one of those people who see the Virgin Mary's face on a Ritz cracker or something, but...
I'm in Taiwan, and I got a latte at my hotel, and I swear I saw the image of the Dalai Lama IN THE FOAM ON TOP.
from Changing China:
Before the Dalai Lama spoke on the sober subjects of religion and the environment in Taiwan during a speech this week, he opened with a quip about his English.
"First thing, no grammar, no proper grammar," the 73-year-old said with a low-pitched staccato laugh while addressing a full auditorium of residents in the southern city of Kaohsiung. "There is a danger to get misunderstandings, so I always tell you, be careful Dalai Lama's broken English."
from Oddly Enough Blog:
Very big talk, from a guy who writes in italics!
I want a photo of the Dalai Lama.
Jeez. I can get you one of those in my sleep. You want him wearing Billy Bob Halloween teeth? Wearing a mullet cut wig?
from Global News Journal:
Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Sunday urged Americans to visit his homeland to disprove China's assertion that people are happy there.
Speaking in Manhattan, the Tibetan Buddhist, who fled his homeland in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, said Beijing insists, "Tibetans are very happy."
"The Chinese government never admit, never acknowledged there is a problem," he said. "So now I think the world community has a responsibility to show the world there is a problem.
"If the majority of Tibetan people are happy, then our information becomes wrong, then ... we must apologize to the Chinese government," the Dalai Lama said to laughs from the audience of 1,500 people.
Noting China cast itself as a liberator of Tibet rather than as a colonialist, he said, "A liberator should not bring more misery.
"So please, you, non-Tibetans, go there ... and then you must show it to the world," he said, "I urge you, please go there."
On April 23, China urged the United States not to let the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing brands a separatist, visit the country. "We oppose the Dalai Lama going to any country to engage in splittist activities under any pretext," said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu.
The Dalai Lama's Sunday event was a conversation with former Irish President Mary Robinson.
Robinson, also a former United Nations Human Rights Commissioner, called the lack of progress on human rights in Tibet, "heartbreaking from a human rights point of view."
The Dalai Lama replied, "I am happy, I hear also one splittist."
Beijing calls the Dalai Lama a reactionary who seeks to split off nearly a quarter of the land mass of the People's Republic of China. It has been using its diplomatic clout to try to block the pro-Tibetan message.
The 1989 Nobel Peace laureate denies the charge, saying he seeks greater rights, including religious freedom, and autonomy for Tibetans.
His week-long trip to the United States included a variety of events in California, Boston and New York but does not include a meeting with President Barack Obama.
The Dalai Lama, together with tens of thousands of exiled Tibetans, has lived in India since he fled Lhasa.
Photo credit: Reuters/Eric Thayer. The Dalai Lama listens at the "Wisdom and Compassion for Challenging Times" event in New York May 3, 2009.
from The Great Debate:
Once in a while a good computer security scare comes along that has all the makings of a taut Cold War spy thriller and the latest news of a global computer espionage ring is one such story.
A new report entitled "Tracking GhostNet: Investigating a Cyber Espionage Network," argues that poorly defended computers used by government and private organizations in 103 nations may have been violated. The study has attracted widespread media attention after a New York Times story about it at the weekend.