His Holiness the Dalai Lama met representatives of the United States in New Delhi, on July 9, 2023. Photo: (CTA)

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Dharamshala – His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet met representatives of the United States in New Delhi following of his birthday. On his way to Ladakh, His Holiness spoke to journalists about China's intentions regarding the situation in Tibet. He said: "Now China also realizes the Tibetan people, their spirit is very strong. So in order to deal with the Tibetan problem, they want to contact me. I am also ready."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama was forced to leave Tibet in 1959 because of China's illegal occupation of the region, which has lasted for over 60 years. Along with South Sudan and Syria, Tibet is the least free nation under Chinese rule. For several decades, the Dalai Lama, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has been trying to resolve the Tibetan conflict with China through dialogue. His approach, also known as the Middle Way Approach, would grant the Tibetan people genuine autonomy while allowing the Chinese government to keep Tibet within the People's Republic of China.

“We are not seeking independence. We have decided since many years we will remain part of the People’s Republic of China,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama said. “So w will see. Now China is changing. The Chinese, officially or unofficially, [want] contact with me” His Holiness added.

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama met with a high-level US delegation led by the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Under Secretary Uzra Zeya, in New Delhi on July 9, 2023. The delegation includes Eric Garcetti, USA Ambassador to India, Donald Lu, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs, and Änjali Kaur, USAID Deputy Assistant Administrator. Sikyong ( President ) Penpa Tsering of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), and Kalon ( Minister ) Norzin Dolma of the Department of Information and International Relations (DIIR), CTA, Representative Namgyal Choedup of the Office of Tibet in the United States, Tencho Gyatso, President of the International Campaign for Tibet, and others joined the meeting.

Following the meeting in Delhi, the Chinese embassy in India criticised the United States. Wang Xiaojian, spokesperson for the embassy, tweeted that "Tibetan affairs are purely internal Chinese affairs and no outside force has the right to interfere. China firmly opposes any form of contact between foreign officials and 'Tibetan independence' forces".

Wang added: "The so-called ‘Special Coordinator for Tibet[an] Issues’ is pure offense and a move of political manipulation to interfere in China's internal affairs and undermine [Tibet’s] development and stability. China has always been firmly opposed to this and has never recognized it."

Despite China's attempts to interfere in US policy on Tibet, the United States has provided consistent, bipartisan support for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people for decades.

The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are currently debating a bipartisan "Promoting Resolution of the Tibet-China Conflict Act", which will pressure the Chinese government to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama's special envoys in an effort to resolve the decades-long Sino-Tibetan issue.