Anger over Obama meeting Dalai Lama

Updated: 2011-07-18 06:51

By Li Xiaokun and Cui Haipei (China Daily)

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BEIJING - China accused the United States of interfering in its internal affairs and damaging relations on Sunday as it objected strongly to US President Barack Obama meeting the Dalai Lama.

The meeting has "grossly interfered in China's internal affairs, hurt the feelings of Chinese people and damaged Sino-US relations," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement released early on Sunday morning.

"China expresses its strong indignation and resolute objection," Ma said.

"We demand that the US 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'. "

The statement was issued a few hours after Obama met the Dalai Lama in Washington on Saturday.

The White House said that during the 45-minute private session Obama "underscored the importance of the protection of human rights of Tibetans in China".

It also said Obama reiterated his support for the preservation of Tibet's religious, cultural and linguistic traditions.

Obama restated US policy that it does not support "Tibetan independence".

He also said that he considered a cooperative relationship between the US and China to be important, according to a White House statement.

Ma said the issue regarding Tibet is exclusively in the realm of China's internal affairs. The Dalai Lama is in nature a political exile who has been engaged in secessionist activities in the name of religion, he said.

The US has grossly violated norms governing international relations and gone against its repeated commitments, Ma added.

According to another statement posted on the Foreign Ministry's website, Vice-Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai summoned Robert S. Wang, charge d'affaires of the US embassy in Beijing, in the early hours on Sunday to lodge a protest, while China's Ambassador to the US, Zhang Yesui, also lodged a protest.

This is Obama's second meeting with the Dalai Lama since taking office in 2009.

Their last meeting in February 2010 irritated Beijing during a dispute-filled year in which China and the US also quarreled over US arms sales to Taiwan.

Ties thawed later and were considered to be back on track when President Hu Jintao visited the US in January.

According to AP, the meeting came less than 10 days before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is scheduled to visit the southern city of Shenzhen and meet State Councilor Dai Bingguo on July 25.

US Vice-President Joe Biden is also scheduled to visit China this summer, followed by a scheduled trip to the US by his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

The People's Daily said in an editorial on Sunday that since the Dalai Lama arrived in Washington on July 5, he did not contain himself to religious activities as he had promised. Instead, he asked for meetings with high-level US politicians, got funding of $2 million from the US State Department and claimed he will "make trouble for China", the paper said.

According to Reuters, the meeting was closed to the media and was announced just hours before the Dalai Lama was set to close his 11-day Washington trip. The White House later released a photo of a tieless Obama listening to the Dalai Lama.

Jin Canrong, deputy dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China, noted that the White House arranged the talks on the weekend in the Map Room rather than in the Oval Office.

"The coming meeting of Dai and Clinton will indicate how bad the consequences might be," he said.

Jin said China can respond in different ways, but "now we need to ensure that an adequate assessment is made before making decisions".

Qu Xing, director of the China Institute of International Studies, said Obama's decision to meet the Dalai Lama exposed his fragile domestic political status.

"Obviously he chose to go for votes instead of maintaining a good China-US relationship, as he promised", Qu said.

Xinhua and AP contributed to this story.


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