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Historic engagement with USA: President of Tibetan government-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay, visits White House for the first time in six decades

Dr Lobsang Sangay's visit on Friday amounts to an acknowledgement a tectonic shift in US policy towards Tibet and its recognition to the democratic system of the CTA and its political head.

In a historic event that could have massive geopolitical ramifications, the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) President Lobsang Sangay visited the White House for the first time in the six decades.

The visit by Sikyong Dr Lobsang Sangay, who is the president of Tibetan government-in-exile, to the White House comes as a historic recognition of the democratically elected Tibetan government by the United States government.

Sikyong Dr. Lobsang Sangay and Representative Tsering outside the White House compound after the meeting/ Image Source: CTA

On Saturday, the Central Tibetan Administration released a press statement saying that for the first time in the last sixty years that the head of the CTA has been invited into the White House.

A spokesperson for the CTA said that Sangay had also become the first CTA president to be formally invited into the US State Department when he met Assistant Secretary and Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues Robert Destro last month.

Reportedly, the head of the CTA was denied entry to the US State Department and the White House as the US government did not want to recognize the Tibetan government in exile considering its relations with the People Republic of China.

Lobsang Sangay visits White House: US’s acknowledgement towards democratically elected Tibetan government

Dr Lobsang Sangay’s visit on Friday amounts to an acknowledgement a tectonic shift in US policy towards Tibet and its recognition to the democratic system of the CTA and its political head.  

Prior to this meeting at the White House, Dr Sangay also met with White House officials in undisclosed meetings and locations over a dozen times in the past decade ever since he became the CTA’s Sikyong in 2011. This unprecedented meeting perhaps will set an optimistic tone for CTA participation with US officials and be more formalized in the coming years.

Sikyong is the head of the Central Tibetan Administration, a Tibetan exile organisation also known as the Tibetan Government-in-Exile.

Though he nears the end of his term as the Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration, Dr Sangay has fearlessly advocated for the Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2019 even as the Communist Party of China continue to persecute Tibetians in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

The historic meeting by the two countries assumes significance even as China continues to illegally occupy Tibet, ever since it occupied it in 1951. Tibet’s government is currently in exile. India shares an irritant relationship with China when it comes to the issue of Tibet Autonomous Region. New Delhi refers to its border in Arunachal Pradesh as an Indo-Tibet border. Reportedly, around 1 lakh Tibetans are living in exile in India including Dalai lama.

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