Thursday, February 4, 2010

Obama to Meet with The Dalai Lama Later This Month

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced this afternoon that President Obama will meet with The Dalai Lama later this month although he did not give a specific date. The Dalai Lama is scheduled to be in D.C. on February 17th and 18th.

President Obama had snubbed The Dalai Lama during his late visit to D.C. in October so as not to upset the Chinese before his state visit there the following month. But over the past few days things have changed dramatically between the Obama Administration and China. In addition to having an audience with a fellow Nobel Laureate, the Obama Administration also announced a $6 billion arms deal to Taiwan while Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton criticized China for its opposition to sanctions against Iran. Yesterday, President Obama criticized China for its low currency rate and called upon them to open their markets to Western goods.

So why has Obama changed his tune towards China?

The Chinese government has been involved in cyberattacks on the U.S. government, Google, defense contractors, media and non-profit entities. Of course, this has been going on for a number of years now. Why didn't Obama take China to task when he first assumed office? Perhaps he was under the illusion things would be different upon his arrival. Well, he has been disabused of those illusions. Obviously, the Chinese have not only stepped up their involvement but have probably hacked into places they couldn't previously reach. Did they hack the White House? The Pentagon? Whatever they did it got the Obama Administration's attention.

The question is where will this all lead. I suspect the Obama Administration and China will continue to saber rattle over the next couple of weeks leading up to The Dalai Lama's visit. Once things have reached a fever pitch there will be behind the scenes diplomatic negotiations. China will promise to "hack off" while the Obama Administration will scale back its support for Taiwan. Both the Obama Administration and the Chinese Communists will declare victory. After a few weeks, the Chinese will resume their hacking and Obama will go back to slacking.

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