GOP rep presses Trump to meet with Dalai Lama

Mark Hensch, The Hill | December 8, 2016

Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) says President-elect Donald Trump should meet with the Dalai Lama, a move that risks increasing tensions with China.

“As you meet with various world leaders in preparation for assuming your role as President, I would like to take the opportunity to suggest that you meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama,” Sensenbrenner wrote in a letter to Trump dated Tuesday.

“Since his exile from Tibet 57 years ago, the Dalai Lama has been a strong and persistent advocate for a peaceful resolution for the tension between Tibet and China,” added Sensenbrenner, who backed Trump’s White House run.

“Throughout the course of the last half-century, America has had a strong and stable relationship with the people and government of Tibet. I hope you will continue this strong relationship with Tibet, as well as promote peace between Tibet and the People’s Republic of China.”

Sensenbrenner added that a meeting with the Dalai Lama would send Beijing a strong message about U.S. support for Tibet.

“Tibetans have the right to preserve their culture, heritage, language, and religion,” he said. “Over the years, the Tibetan people have undergone a constant struggle to free themselves from the Chinese government and to preserve these basic freedoms.

“However, the People’s Republic of China continues to refuse to acknowledge the autonomy of the Tibetan people, and have cracked down on protests and demonstrations by Tibetans.”

The Dalai Lama fled China at age 24, fearing for his life, and has since lived in exile in India.

China views the Buddhist spiritual leader as an agitator and has repeatedly rejected calls for new autonomy for his homeland of Tibet.

Trump’s relationship with Beijing is off to a rocky start following his surprising phone call with Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen.

The president-elect spoke with Tsai last Friday, shattering decades of U.S. protocol.

Former President Jimmy Carter severed ties with the government on Taiwan in 1979, when the U.S. formally recognized the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China. China sees Taiwan as a breakaway province.