It’s bad enough that U.S. companies went ahead and sold arms to Taiwan (drawing the threat of sanction from an offended China) but now President Obama plans to meet with China’s biggest bĂȘte noire, His Holiness the Dalai Lama. (His failure to do so previously raised some eyebrows among Tibet-watchers around the globe.)

Relations between China and the U.S. have seldom been worse. Spats over human rights, the freedom of the internet, and currency control are raising tensions in both Washington and Beijing.

China’s ritual protests over heads of state meeting with the Dalai Lama usually die down fairly quickly with few lasting repercussions.