U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with civil society organization representatives in New Delhi. Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

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New Delhi, India — U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken met with representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibet, during a two-day visit to India, in New Delhi on Wednesday, July 28, 2021, a State Department spokesman confirmed.

According to Reuters and other sources, Secretary Blinken briefly met with Ngodup Dongchung, representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama at New Delhi, and Buddhist Monk Geshe Dorji Damdul, the current director of the Tibet House in Delhi, India.

The meeting is expected to anger China, which considers Tibet to be “an integral part of China”. The meeting is taking place against the backdrop of tense relations between Washington and Beijing.

“I was pleased to meet civil society leaders today. The US and India share a commitment to democratic values; this is a part of the bedrock of our relationship and reflective of India’s pluralistic society and history of harmony. Civil society helps advance these values,” Blinken tweeted following the meeting.

“There is a greater imperative than ever on cooperation, coordination, and collaboration among countries, especially among countries that share basic perspectives, values and interests, and that is certainly the case with America and India,” Blinken stated during the meeting.

The Tibetan uprising of 1959 led to violent clashes between the Tibetan people and the Chinese army. His Holiness the Dalai Lama fled to exile in India after China annexed Tibet. He then established a government in exile in India.

The United States has been actively raising the issue of human rights violations in Tibet on various platforms. The Central Tibetan Administration(CTA) and other Tibetan advocacy groups have received a boost in international support in recent months amid rising criticism of China's human rights record, particularly from the United States.

Over the past 70 decades, there has been ongoing political repression, social discrimination, economic marginalization, environmental destruction, and cultural assimilation, particularly due to Chinese migration to Tibet which is fueling intense resentment among the people of occupied Tibet.

The communist-totalitarian state of China began its invasion of Tibet in 1949, reaching complete occupation of the country in 1959. Since that time, more than 1.2 million people, 20% of the nation's population of six million, have died as a direct result of China's invasion and occupation. In addition, over 99% of Tibet's six thousand religious monasteries, temples, and shrines, have been looted or decimated resulting in the destruction of hundreds of thousands of sacred Buddhist scriptures.

Until 1949, Tibet was an independent nation in the Himalayas which had little contact with the rest of the world. It existed as a rich cultural storehouse — a unifying theme among the Tibetans — as was their own language, literature, art, and world view developed by living at high altitudes, under harsh conditions, in a balance with their environment.