NEW DELHI — Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a subtle show of solidarity with the Dalai Lama, continuing a theme of U.S. and Indian support for exiled Tibetan Buddhists as Chinese Communist officials celebrate their control over the repressed minority.
“At a time of rising global threats to democracy and international freedoms — we talk about a democratic recession — it’s vital that we two world-leading democracies continue to stand together in support of these ideals,” Blinken said on Wednesday.
Blinken delivered the message as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi faces a monthslong protest from Sikh farmers that is blending in parliament with the Pegasus scandal, following recent revelations that suggest Indian officials spied on domestic journalists. The inclusion of the Tibetan Buddhists lent a double-meaning to the meeting, days after Chinese General Secretary Xi Jinping traveled to Tibet to affirm Beijing’s plan to bend the religious community there to the communist regime’s will.
"The Indian people and the American people believe in human dignity, in equality of opportunity, the rule of law, fundamental freedoms, including freedom of religion and belief,” Blinken said. “These are fundamental tenets of democracies like ours, and our purpose is to give real meaning to these words and constantly renew our commitment to these ideals."
The roundtable featured Tibet House Director Venerable Geshe Dorji Damdul, a senior member of the cultural center founded by the Dalai Lama in 1965, and was one of two encounters with exiled Tibetans on Wednesday.
“Secretary Blinken had an opportunity to meet briefly this morning in New Delhi with a representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Central Tibetan Administration Representative Ngodup Dongchung,” a State Department spokesman announced.
The meetings followed a high-profile gesture from Modi as well, who wished the Dalai Lama a happy birthday earlier this month — the first public acknowledgment by the Indian prime minister of a conversation with the religious leader. Chinese officials, however, punished Tibetans who likewise honored the Dalai Lama on his birthday.
“[Twenty] or 30 more Tibetans were suspected to have been arrested some time around the birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama," a Central Tibetan Administration report revealed earlier this month. “Very little is known about the arrest of this group of Tibetans because of the communication clampdown and strict surveillance put in place by the Chinese officials."
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Original Author: Joel Gehrke
Original Location: Blinken meets 'representative' of Dalai Lama in message to China