By Lobsang Wangyal
McLEOD GANJ, India, 8 November 2020
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama congratulated Joe Biden on his election as the next president of the United States.
In a letter written to Biden, the Dalai Lama said, “I have long been an admirer of the US as the anchor of liberty, democracy, religious freedom and the rule of law. Humanity places great hope in the democratic vision and leadership of the US as leader of the free world. Particularly in these challenging times, I hope you will be able to contribute to shaping a more peaceful world in which people suffering poverty and injustice find relief. The need to address these issues, as well as climate change, is indeed pressing.”
Biden, 77, won the elections after four days of suspense over the outcome, with the battleground state of Pennsylvania giving 20 Electoral College votes vaulting him past the threshold of 270 to clinch the presidency.
“The people of this nation have spoken. They have delivered us a clear victory, a convincing victory,” Biden said in his victory speech, amid honking and cheering supporters in a parking lot in his home town of Wilmington, Delaware.
Promising to unify and heal the deeply-divided nation following Trump’s political polarisation and racial divisiveness, Biden said, “I sought this office to restore the soul of America, and to make America respected around the world again and to unite us here at home.”
He urged the country to put away the harsh rhetoric, to lower the temperature, listen to each other again, to make progress. “We are not enemies. We are Americans.”
His priorities will be tackling the Coronavirus pandemic, rebuilding economic prosperity, securing health care for American families, and rooting out systemic racism.
Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris made history as the first woman, the first Black person, and the first person of Indian descent to be elected Vice President. Harris, 55, a California Senator, is the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants.
In his letter, the Dalai Lama also wrote, “May I also commend you for your choice of a woman, Kamala Harris, to be your Vice President.”
The Dalai Lama thanked Biden for his support for the Tibetan people, “during your time in Congress and the previous administration, as well as for your statement in September this year.”
During his campaign trail Biden had said that as president he will meet the Dalai Lama, continuing a decades-old practice followed by US presidents, and press China to resume talks with Tibetans for meaningful autonomy.
He also vowed to impose sanctions on Chinese officials responsible for human rights abuses in Tibet, to step up support for Tibetans, and to appoint a new Special Coordinator for Tibetan issues.
Except for President Donald Trump, all US presidents since George HW Bush have met with the Dalai Lama, showing their support for the Tibetan cause. However, Trump did appoint the US Special Coordinator for Tibet, a month after Biden spoke of the Dalai Lama and his support for Tibetans.
Biden accused Trump of maintaining a deafening silence on Chinese actions in Tibet and focusing instead on an empty trade deal and on nurturing his friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Offering his prayers, the Dalai Lama wished Biden every success in meeting the challenges that lie ahead in fulfilling the hopes and aspirations of the people of the United States and in contributing to a more peaceful and harmonious world.