SHANGHAI – The head of the Tibetan government-in-exile visited the White House for the first time in six decades. This could infuriate Beijing and accuse the United States of trying to destabilize the region.
Lobsang Sangay, president of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), was invited to the White House on Friday to meet the newly appointed U.S. special coordinator on Tibetan issues, Robert Destro, the CTA said in a press release.
“This unprecedented meeting may set an optimistic tone for the participation of CTAs with US officials and will be formalized in the years to come,” said the CTA, based in India’s Dharamshalah region.
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Tibet has become a point of contention between the United States and China, with relations between the world’s two largest economies reaching their lowest level in decades.
Foreign Secretary Mike Pompeo accused Beijing of violating Tibetan human rights in July, saying Washington supported “meaningful autonomy” for the region.
Since then, Beijing officials have accused the United States of using Tibet to promote “splitism” in China. China has also refused to deal with Destro.
China took control of Tibet in 1950 in what it termed a “peaceful liberation” that helped it shed its “feudal past”, but critics, led by the exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, say Beijing’s rule is “cultural genocide” .
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in August that China must build an “impregnable fortress” in Tibet to protect national unity.