The Chinese government on Saturday called on the United States to cancel a planned meeting between President Barack Obama and the Tibetan religious leader the Dalai Lama, warning that it would “damage” relations between both countries.
“The issue regarding Tibet concerns China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and we firmly oppose any foreign official to meet with the Dalai Lama in any form,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said in a statement.
He called on the U.S. government “to immediately withdraw the decision” of arranging the meeting and “to avoid interfering in China’s internal affairs and damaging China-U.S. relations.”
Mr. Obama is scheduled to meet with the Dalai Lama on Saturday in Washington, where the exiled Tibetan religious leader is attending a 11-day Buddhist ritual.
Relations between the U.S. and China soured following Mr. Obama’s last meeting with the Dalai Lama, in February 2010.
While China accuses the Dalai Lama of being a “splittist”, the Tibetan religious leader says he is only seeking “meaningful autonomy” to preserve Tibetans’ religious and cultural traditions.
Mr. Hong said China requested the U.S. “to honour its serious commitment that recognises Tibet as part of China and opposes ‘Tibet independence’”.
He said the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the Chinese Embassy had “lodged solemn representation with the United States over the issue in Beijing and Washington”.