During a recent meeting with US President Obama, the Dalai Lama was surprised to see a copy of a letter sent to him by President Roosevelt in 1942 ...! Beyond the anecdotal aspect (and the reference to Roosevelt whose shadow still hangs over the Democratic Party), this event raises the question of complex relationship maintained by Tibet, China and the United States.
In 1942, when Roosevelt sends this famous letter (accompanied by a gold Rolex) to a 7-year-old Dalai Lama, it is about establishing diplomatic relations with what is still only a landlocked state and unknown to the China's margins. The American president at the time, as we know particularly sensitive to the Chinese cause, does not question the influence that the Republic of China could exert, once the war is over, on Tibet, which has remained in Chinese orbit since. centuries (at least since the Ming Dynasty according to some sources).
The victory of the communists over the nationalists in 1949 will gradually change this state of affairs. In the ccold war the People's Republic of China, is seen as a potential enemy by the United States. When Beijing undertook to establish its authority directly on Tibet (between 1950 and 1959), the American authorities decided to secretly help the Tibetan resistance to Chinese troops.
This will result in many armed uprisings, and will promote the exile of the Dalai Lama in India. Since then, like the Taiwanese question, the Tibetan question is a point of friction between Washington and Beijing. Somewhat hostage to the balance of power between these two great powers, the Tibetan cause nonetheless has its own dynamics and enjoys a certain media coverage.