China Condemns Obama's Meeting With Tibetan Leader

By Wire Dispatches | July 18, 2011 | 12:18 AM EDT

President Obama meets with the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House on July 16, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Beijing (AP) – China Sunday slammed President Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama as an act that has “grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs’’ and damaged Chinese-American relations.

The statement from China’s Foreign Ministry came hours after Obama met with the Tibetan spiritual leader and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who was in Washington for an 11-day Buddhist ritual.

China had already called on the United States to stop Saturday’s meeting, warning it could hurt the countries’ relations.

After the 45-minute private session at the White House, China said the Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy had lodged objections with US representatives in Beijing and Washington.

“Such an act has grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs, hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, and damaged Sino-American relations,’’ Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

“We demand the US side 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 ‘Tibetan independence,’ ’’ Ma said.

China considers the Dalai Lama a separatist intent on ending Chinese rule over Tibet. The Nobel laureate says he seeks only a high level of autonomy for Tibet.

The meeting came less than 10 days before Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton is due to visit China and meet with Beijing’s top foreign policy official.

“It’s difficult to say at the moment whether this meeting will be affected,’’ said Jin Canrong, an international affairs expert at Renmin University. “But this meeting is quite important, and whether it takes place or is canceled will give us an indication of what the follow-up impact will be.’’

The White House said Obama “underscored the importance of the protection of human rights of Tibetans in China.’’ Obama restated US policy that it does not support Tibetan independence.