China asked US President Barack Obama to revoke his decision to meet the Dalai Lama and not to “interfere in Chinese internal affairs”, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said.
After the White House announced the meeting to be held Saturday, the ministry and the Chinese ambassador to the United States lodged a “solemn representation” against it, Hong said in a statement on the ministry’s website.
Beijing calls on Washington “to immediately revoke its decision to hold a meeting between Obama and the Dalai Lama” and to “honor its serious commitment that recognizes Tibet as part of China”, the statement said.
“We are firmly opposed to any foreign politician meeting the Dalai Lama in any form whatsoever,” it said, warning the US administration against any action that “could harm US-Chinese relations”.
The White House made the announcement late Friday after a long silence on whether Obama would meet the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, who was to leave Saturday after an 11-day visit to Washington to lead thousands in a Buddhist meditation ritual.
The visit comes at a delicate moment in relations between the two Pacific powers, 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 White House said Obama would “highlight his enduring support for dialogue between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and the Chinese government to resolve differences”.
The Dalai Lama, who enjoys wide popularity in the United States, has lived in exile since 1959. The Nobel Peace Prize winner, a declared pacifist, says he is peacefully seeking rights for Tibetans and accepts Chinese rule.
But Beijing insists that he is a “splittist” bent on dividing China and regularly protests his meetings overseas.