Donald Trump continually railed against China during his campaign, characterizing the no-longer-sleeping giant as a job thief and currency trickster that was eating America’s lunch. Now the Dalai Lama — Trump’s equal in China criticism, if on different subjects — says he’ll visit with Trump soon after the President-elect takes office. The move will be seen as an affront to the Chinese government, and will come on the heels of Trump’s promised withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. (China sees the Dalai Lama as a separatist and has sought to limit the Dalai Lama’s influence around the world.)
Despite Chinese admonitions, the US has had a virtual open door policy for the Tibetan spiritual leader. With Trump already attacking China, that open door will hardly be China’s chief antagonism with the incoming Trump administration. The Dalai Lama’s announcement that he would visit with Trump signals that he expects to be treated by the new administration just as he was by the outgoing administration. Barack Obama welcomed the Dalai Lama to the White House four times during his presidency, most recently in June.