Beijing protests US post on Tibet

Updated: 2014-02-25 11:50

By Chen Weihua in Washington and Pu Zhendong in Beijing (China Daily USA)

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China on Monday opposed the United States' appointment of a special coordinator for Tibet issues.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the Chinese government is firmly opposed to any country's interference in China's internal affairs by making use of the so-called "Tibetan issues".

"We will never recognize the so-called 'Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues' designated by the US as we have never before," she told a daily press briefing in Beijing.

US Secretary of State John Kerry announced last Friday his designation of Sarah Sewall, the under secretary of state for civilian security, democracy and human rights, to serve concurrently as US special coordinator for Tibetan issues.

"As Special Coordinator, Under Secretary Sewall will coordinate the US Government's policies, programs, and projects on Tibetan issues globally, and particularly within the context of our bilateral relationships with the People's Republic of China, India, and Nepal, where there are significant populations of Tibetans," Kerry said in a State Department announcement. Sewall's predecessors also served concurrently as special coordinators for Tibetan issues.

The Tibetan issue has long been a stumbling block in largely smooth China-US ties.

Last Friday, China lodged a strong protest to the US over the meeting between President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama.

Obama hosted a closed-door meeting with the Dalai Lama at the White House on Friday morning, despite repeated protests from Beijing since the meeting was announced on Thursday.

Beijing voiced its opposition immediately after the meeting, decrying Washington for meddling in China's domestic affairs.

Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui on Friday night summoned Daniel Kritenbrink, charge d'affaires of the US embassy in China, to lodge solemn representations over the meeting.

"The United States, on the one hand, recognizes that Tibet is part of China and has agreed not to support 'Tibet independence', while on the other hand has arranged the meeting between its leader and the Dalai Lama," Zhang said.

In Washington, Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the US, made solemn representations to the US government on Friday, urging Washington to take immediate measures to correct the mistake.

"Showing respect to each other's core interests and major concerns is key to ensuring the sound and steady development of China-US relations," Cui said.

He Tongmei, a visiting scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, said it is simply not acceptable to China that US President Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama regardless of the strong protest from the Chinese government.

"Pushing forward the China-US relationship calls for common endeavors by both nations," she said.

He said the two countries must strengthen communications to help mainstream US society learn more about Tibet-related issues.

Zhu Zhiqun, director of the China Institute and professor of political science and international relations at Bucknell University, said the problem derives from sharply different perceptions of Tibet and the Dalai Lama by the two countries.

"However, the Sino-US relationship is strong enough to withstand any negative impact of the Obama-Dalai Lama meeting," he said.

Friday's meeting, which took place in the White House Map Room instead of the Oval Office, was closed to the media. Unlike previous meetings, the Dalai Lama did not speak to reporters afterward.

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(China Daily USA 02/25/2014 page1)