China on Thursday invoked Abraham Lincoln’s anti-slavery philosophy to persuade US president Barack Obama from meeting the Dalai Lama. Obama is due to visit China in mid-November but the local government is worried he might meet the Tibetan leader immediately after that.
“He is a black president, and he understands the slavery abolition movement and Lincoln’s major significance for that movement,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang told reporters.
Qin pointed out the Chinese government had abolished slavery, which was widespread in Tibet during the regime of the Dalai Lama, in 1959. Obama should also realize that the Dalai Lama was trying to split China and was a serious challenge to its national unity.
“Lincoln played an incomparable role in protecting the national unity and territorial integrity of the United States,” Qin said while referring to Obama’s admiration for Lincoln. China’s stance on the issue is similar to that of Lincoln, he said.
China regards the Dalai Lama as a dangerous “splittist” out to divide the country while the Tibetan leader says he is only seeking true autonomy for Tibet.
Obama did not meet the Tibetan leader during his recent visit to the US. The announcement about his visit to China came just one day after the White House announced last month the US president was not meeting the Dalai Lama provoking some people to speculate if there was a deal between the two governments on the issue.
The Tibetan leader later said he would be meeting the US president after the latter’s visit to China. This is what has caused a flutter in political circles in Beijing.
Soon after his inauguration as US president, Obama said he would not have been able to reach that position without the efforts of Lincoln, Qin said.
“Thus on this issue we hope that President Obama, more than any other foreign leader, can better, more deeply grasp China’s stance on protecting national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.
He said China opposes any meetings between the exiled Tibetan leader and foreign leaders. The issue was among China’s core concerns.
“We must treasure the positive circumstances and opportunities for China-US relations,” Qin said.
“In particular, both sides must respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, and Tibetan issues are among China’s core interests and major concerns.”