Dalai Lama meeting bad 'in any form'

Updated: 2015-02-03 08:29

By Chen Mengwei(China Daily USA)

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China firmly opposes foreign leaders meeting with the Dalai Lama "in any form", Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in response to reports that the exiled figure may attend an annual religious event in the US on Thursday that US President Barack Obama is also scheduled to attend.

Dalai Lama meeting bad 'in any form'

"Tibet-related issues concern China's core interests and our national sentiment," Hong said on Monday. "We firmly oppose any country using Tibet-related issues to interfere in China's domestic affairs. We resolutely oppose any country's leaders meeting the Dalai Lama in any form."

Hong expressed his hope that the US would keep to its commitment on Tibet-related issues and handle the matter in the interest of bilateral relations.

The National Prayer Breakfast, founded in 1953, is held annually in Washington, DC, on the first Thursday of February. Every US president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has participated in the event. Obama is also scheduled to address the gathering.

Fan Jishe, a US studies researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that if Obama meets the Dalai Lama, on any occasion, it will negatively influence any cooperation between the two countries.

"Mutual respect is a key factor in nurturing relations between two big countries," Fan said. "Obama should know clearly that any meeting with the Dalai Lama will hurt the Chinese people's feelings."

Obama has met three times with the Dalai Lama, a political exile who has long engaged in anti-China seccesionist activities in the name of religion. Each meeting has brought strong protests from China.

White House officials tried to downplay the issue, saying there was no "specific meeting" to announce. Though Obama will speak at the breakfast, it is unclear whether he will meet the Dalai Lama, according to Reuters.

Li Haidong, a professor of US studies at China Foreign Affairs University, said Obama is trying to score political points domestically at the expense of harming China-US relations.

"Obama is not facing election pressure. Two more years to go, and that's it," Li said. "This time, he is just trying to show to those who criticize his softness in China-US relations that he is independent and has principles. But the price for that is too high."