China criticised a planned meeting between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled Buddhist leader, implying today that the Tibet issue was an "unnecessary disturbance" in bilateral relations.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang reiterated Beijing's opposition to any contact between the Dalai Lama, whom China accuses of conducting separatist activities overseas, and foreign heads of state.
Sarkozy has said he would hold the meeting with the Dalai Lama on December 6 during a visit to Gdansk, Poland.
"The Tibet issue is an internal affair," Qin said in a regular news briefing, adding that China and France should "overcome all unnecessary disturbances and safeguard the interests of bilateral relations."
It was at least the third time this month the Foreign Ministry has criticised the planned meeting.
China insists Tibet has been part of its territory for 700 years, although many Tibetans say they were effectively independent for most of that time. Chinese forces invaded shortly after the 1949 Communist revolution and the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 amid an unsuccessful uprising against Chinese rule.
Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking Tibet's separation from China, despite his repeated public denials and two-decade-old advocacy of a "middle path" that would achieve meaningful autonomy and protections for the Himalayan region's unique Buddhist culture, while leaving it a part of China.
The meeting between Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama will take place days after the December 1 EU-China summit in Lyons, France, which Sarkozy will attend as holder of the European Union's rotating presidency.