- The Washington Times - Friday, February 21, 2014

For very different reasons, Chinese government officials and the White House press corps both raised objections to President Obama’s meeting Friday with the Dalai Lama.

Ahead of the White House meeting, Chinese officials warned the U.S. that any sit-down with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader would represent a “gross interference” into China’s internal affairs.

After the meeting ended, the administration faced more complaints, this time from the White House press corps.

White House photographers were kept out of the meeting, and the administration instead produced its own photographs and released them via social media. Government-produced pictures replacing the access of independent journalists has created a serious rift between the Washington press corps and this administration.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters Friday he’s tried to follow through on a promise to improve access to the president.

“My pledge was sincere and we have taken steps … to open access and improve access,” Mr. Carney said. “But I never pledged and what I can’t possibly pledge and what none of my successors in the history of this office will pledge is that we’re going to give access to every meeting the president has, even ones that are of profound interest to the press for understandable reasons.”

The White House did release a brief read-out of Mr. Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama and made clear that it does not support Tibetan independence from China, though it does support the so-called “Middle Way” approach of more autonomy for Tibet and a direct dialogue with the Chinese government.

“The president reiterated his strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republican of China,” the White House said. “The president commended the Dalai Lama’s commitment to peace and nonviolence.”

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