China slams Obama-Dalai Lama meeting

CHINA has lashed out at Washington after US President Barack Obama welcomed the Dalai Lama to the White House, saying the meeting has damaged relations between the two countries.

“Such an act has grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs, hurt the feelings of Chinese people and damaged the Sino-American relations,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a written statement.

Mr Obama’s meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader yesterday was a low-key affair, held away from the Oval Office where presidents traditionally meet world leaders.

Beijing regards Tibet as an “inseparable” part of China and the Dalai Lama as a “splittist” bent on dividing the country. It regularly protests over his meetings overseas.
The Dalai Lama says he is peacefully seeking greater rights in Tibet and accepts Chinese rule.

“We demand the US side to seriously consider China’s stance, immediately adopt measures to wipe out the baneful impact, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and cease to connive and support anti-China separatist forces that seek ‘Tibet independence’,” Mr Ma said.

The statement said the meeting had gone against US commitments, according to the Xinhua report, though no details of these were given.

The Chinese foreign ministry also issued an “urgent summons” to the US charge d’affaires in Beijing in the early hours of Sunday morning to protest against the meeting, according to a separate Xinhua report.

China had warned the United States not to receive the Dalai Lama and lodged an official protest after the meeting – Obama’s second in office with the Buddhist leader — was announced.

After the meeting, the Dalai Lama said he felt close to the president at a “human level” and the US leader shared his concerns about the situation in Tibet, which the Buddhist leader fled in 1959 for safety in India.

China has held nine rounds of talks with the Dalai Lama’s envoys, the last in January 2010.

But the dialogue has yielded no tangible progress, leading many Tibetans to believe Beijing is trying to wait out the 76-year-old monk’s death in the hope that his calls for greater rights will wither away without him.

The visit comes at a delicate moment in US-Chinese relations, with rising tensions in the South China Sea between Beijing and five other countries in the region that also lay claim to strategic waters there.

The Obama administration has sought stable relations with China, a growing military and economic power and major holder of US debt. In January, Washington rolled out the red carpet for President Hu Jintao on a state visit.

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