The head of the Tibetan government-in-exile visited the US White House for the first time in six decades. This could further anger Beijing, which has accused 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 with officials, the CTA said in a press release.
“This unprecedented meeting will perhaps set an optimistic tone for CTA attendance with US officials and will be formalized in the years to come,” said the Dharamshala-based CTA.
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.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accused Beijing of violating Tibetan human rights in July and said Washington supports “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 work with the newly appointed U.S. Special Coordinator on Tibetan Issues, Robert Destro.
China took control of Tibet in 1950 in what it called a “peaceful liberation,” which helped it shed its “feudal past,” but critics, led by the exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, say Beijing’s rule is “more cultural Genocide”.
Chinese President Xi Jinping said in August that China must build an “impregnable fortress” in Tibet to protect national unity.