Monday, October 26, 2009

Obama Shows Diplomatic Flair in Handling International Situation

When the Dalai Lama was in the United States, President Barack Obama did not receive the visiting Tibetan spiritual leader. But one cannot interpret that President Obama had refused to meet with and exchange view with the Dalai Lama.

President Obama was just waiting for a more appropriate time to meet with him only. The ability of President Obama in using this old but still effective diplomatic skill in handling US-China diplomatic exchange has reflected the reality that the new US President has mastered some of the subtle diplomatic skills in handling international affairs and situation.

Important and Bigger Ideas
In November, President Obama will meet with Chinese leader Hu Jintao in Singapore. Following that meeting at the APEC Summit, President Obama knows that he will have more important and bigger ideas he wants to discuss with the Chinese leader. China has long declared to the world community that the Dalai Lama is a violent element who aims to separate Tibet from China, but President Obama, his Democratic Party, as well as the people in the United States have their own judgment about the Dalai Lama that can be very different from China's perspective.

However, when the Dalai Lama issue comes out at the diplomatic level, the judgment on the Dalai Lama has to be put on a different perspective. As such, when President Obama needs to talk to Chinese leader Hu Jintao, President Obama of course knows that he cannot upset Hu Jintao by meeting with the Dalai Lama during the period close to his meeting with the Chinese leader. President Obama knows that by not seeing the Dalai Lama, he at least can temporarily avoid having unnecessarily argument with China over the Dalai Lama issue.

President Obama understands perfectly well that although most of the past US presidents did receive the Dalai Lama or did enjoy the friendship with the Tibetan spiritual leader, it is not too convenience for him to meet with the Dalai Lama in his capacity as the US President now. Although President Obama did not receive the Dalai Lama, he has nevertheless allowed his Democrat leaders, leaders in the political circle and the local community to extend warm friendship with the visiting Dalai Lama.

President Obama knows that the Dalai Lama has too many friends in his Democratic Party as well as his rival Republican Party. As such when the Dalai Lama was in the United States, the visiting schedule of the Dalai Lama has proceeded as planned. In retrospect, President Obama has followed French President Nicolas Sarkozy's method in handling the controversial Dalai Lama issue to extend his friendship to the Dalai Lama in this indirect manner.

Dalai Lama's visit to France
Dalai Lama visited France in 2008. Prior to the Dalai Lama's visit to France, China had already given stern warning to the world community. China made clear that whichever countries received and made contact with the Dalai Lama, China would consider these countries as not respecting the wish of Beijing. Since Sarkozy wanted to go to China to attend the Beijing Olympics, Sarkozy knew that he could not afford to provoke China. So, when the Dalai Lama visited France in 2008, the French President found an excuse not to meet with the Dalai Lama. But after Sarkozy finished his important dealing with China and during a considerable low diplomatic period when France did not have major issue to deal with China, President Sarkozy did find an appropriate date and time to warmly welcome the Dalai Lama to France and compensated the temporarily broken friendship with the Tibetan spiritual leader.

Friendship Between Dalai Lama and US Political Circle
Such a diplomatic approach to see and meet with controversial figure at an appropriate date and time is simply and workable. As such President Obama has decided to copy such diplomatic pattern. We trust that after President Obama has settled what he wanted to discuss with the Chinese leader, he will pick a suitable date, perhaps during winter season, to invite the Dalai Lama to Washington for a visit. Yet there are many variable factors in international affairs.

Whether President Obama can find a suitable time to meet with the Dalai Lama will, to a great degree, depend on the US dealing with China. But since the United States and China will have frequent exchanges, President Obama might not have the time to receive the Dalai Lama. But even if President Obama puts his dealing with China above the Dalai Lama, we trust President Obama will not behave like the Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou who made effort to bar the Dalai Lama's entry into Taiwan. President Obama will show his diplomatic flair to allow the friendship between Dalai Lama and the US political circle and civil society to continue.

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