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U.S. Chinese Media Call Obama-Dalai Lama Meeting Routine

New America Media, News Analysis, Vivian Po Posted: Feb 20, 2010

While the mainstream media are focusing their coverage on how the Chinese government reacted vigorously to the February 18 meeting between President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, at the White House, Chinese media in the United States are more interested in what the meeting means to Obama and what he got from it.

An editorial in the Sing Tao Daily (http://singtaousa.com/021910/hl05.php), The Meanings of Obama Routine Meeting with Dalai Lama, was published a day after the meeting. It explains that the meeting carried two meanings for Obama. First, it was necessary in order to maintain Americas image as a leader of the liberal world. It said in part, In the last few decades, none of the past American presidents ever declined to meet with the Dalai Lama. As the proclaimed leader of the western liberal world, it is natural for an American president to meet with Dalai Lama. Therefore, no matter how strong the oppositions are from the Chinese government, the American president must meet with Dalai Lama, or else, how can he continue the legacy of being the leader of the liberal world

Secondly, the editorial points out that Obama cannot afford the negative consequences of not meeting with the Dalai Lama. Ever since Obama took office, public support for him has gradually declined, the number of dissenters has already outnumbered his supporters. With the Democratic party weakening, the economy not recovering, health care reform on the edge of failing, and the congressional election coming by the end of the year, Obama already has too many troubles in his hands. Meeting with the Dalai Lama will not necessarily help, but if he chose not to meet with him, opposing voices must be heard.

Even though China Press (http://review.usqiaobao.com/2010-02/18/content_358772.htm) agreed that Obama is making use of the meeting to strengthen his domestic image and regain support, the paper argued that in the long run, it will harm him. Its editorial, Meeting with Dalai Lama, Obama Loses More Than Gains, explains that the Tibetan issue is one of the core values of Beijing, which cannot be overlooked. Therefore, the U.S.-China relationship must be hurt after the meeting. Perhaps playing the Dalai Lama card will win Obama a few praises from the conservatives, but looking at American benefits in the long run and the U.S.-China relationship in the big picture, there are more losses than gains.

Moreover, the China Press points out, because of the meeting, Obama is losing his popularity among the Chinese young people, whose image of him grew during his visit to China last year. It said, Chinese online users are expressing disappointment and dissatisfaction towards Obama.

However, the Sing Tao Daily did not believe the meeting would have further impacts on the recently shaky relationships between the two countries, caused by the U.S. approval of $6 billion in arm sales to Taiwan. It described the Chinese reaction as more or less formulated and expected. To China, Obamas meeting with the Dalai Lama will not have any impact on how they address the Tibetan issue. Recently, the Chinese government just met with Dalai Lamas representatives, the officials administrating the Tibet Autonomous Region have also changed. Therefore, in the near future, these kinds of meetings will mean nothing more than just routines.

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