Every few months the elusive figure of the Dalai Lama appears on the scene, angry words emerge from China, an American leader stands defiantly saying our president has the right to see whom he darn well desires, there are glares of hostility and quite often some minor action is taken by either the US or China. The ostensible reason for President Barack Obama to see the Tibet leader is to send a message. Is the message–we Americans intend to help the people of Tibet to do something? Of course, there is absolutely nothing American can do to help the Dalai Lama obtain anything except a few photo ops at the White House.
China is still angry over American arms sales to Taiwan and whenever the Dalai Lama appears in another country they issue some words of warning. Of course, they only send words and no action is intended. The entire process is akin to a Kabuki dance in which each plays a role and in the end–nothing changes. The reason is simple, no nation is going to risk war or military action on behalf of the people of Tibet.
I guess Barack is seeking the Tibet vote in the USA.