The simmering difference of views between China and the US over the Tibet issued surfaced on Friday after Beijing urged US President Barack Obama to cancel a meeting with the Tibetan spiritual guru Dalai Lama slated for later on Friday.
Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama became public after the White House released his daily schedule on Thursday.
China was quick to react.
“We urge the United States to take China's concerns seriously and not to facilitate or offer occasion for the Dalai Lama to conduct anti-China secessionist moves,” foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said in a press release.
“By arranging a meeting between the President and the Dalai Lama, the US side will grossly interfere in the internal affairs of China, seriously violate norms governing international relations and severely impair China-US relations. China expresses firm opposition. We urge the US to take China's concerns seriously, immediately cancel the meeting, and not to provide facilitation and platform for the Dalai Lama to carry out anti-China separatist activities in the US,” Hua said.
State-run Xinhua news agency was also quick to point out that the meeting was an “informal one” and it was to be held in the White House’s “Map Room, a historically important room but of less significance than the Oval Office.”
“China is greatly concerned about the meeting, and has lodged solemn representations to the US side,” Hua said.
“The Dalai Lama is a political figure in exile who is undertaking anti-China separatist activities in the name of religion,” Hua said in the statement.
The arranged meeting between the US leader and the Dalai Lama is an unjustified interference with China's domestic affairs and a serious violation of the principles of international relations, and will cause great damage to China-US relations, she added.
“China has long opposed foreign dignitaries meeting with the Dalai Lama,who fled to India and created the self-declared "Tibetan government in exile" in 1959 after a failed armed rebellion,” Xinhua reported.
Obama has met with the Dalai Lama twice before, in February 2010 and July 2011. China expectedly used strong words to crictise the meetings but there no major diplomatic fallout between the two countries.
According to agency reports from Washington, the Dalai Lama was in Washington on Thursday, meeting the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative organisation. “In a speech there, he did not address the issue of Tibet, but stressed that there was a general need for "compassion, tolerance and forgiveness" in the world,” a Reuters report said.