The Dalai Lama, a Nobel laureate, has lived in exile since the Chinese army crushed an uprising in his homeland in 1959 and is revered as the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists. He is scheduled to receive the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday after President Bush receives him at the White House today.
A White House spokesman, Tony Fratto, emphasized that the meeting was “with a spiritual leader,” not a political official, and he said it was thus appropriate that it be held in the president’s residence, not the Oval Office.
The Dalai Lama says he wants "real autonomy," not independence, for Tibet. But China demonizes the spiritual leader and believes the United States is honoring a separatist.