China has urged the US to withdraw a decision on a meeting scheduled for next week between President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama. The tension comes as Obama seeks Beijing's help in imposing new sanctions on Iran.
AFP - China Friday urged the United States to immediately withdraw a decision on a meeting between President Barack Obama and exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Xinhua news agency reported.
The White House has defied angry Chinese protests and said Obama would meet the Dalai Lama next week, just as he seeks Beijing's help in imposing tough new sanctions on Iran.
China had lodged a solemn representation with Washington, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said, according to Xinhua.
"China firmly opposes the Dalai Lama visiting the United States and US leaders' contacting with him," Ma said.
"We urge the US side to fully understand the high sensitivity of Tibet-related issues, honour its commitment to recognising Tibet as part of China and opposing 'Tibet independence'," Ma said.
Despite political pressure at home, Obama avoided meeting the Dalai Lama when the Buddhist monk was in Washington last year, in an apparent bid to set relations off on a good foot with Beijing early in his presidency.
Obama, however, told Chinese leaders during his trip to Beijing in November that he planned to meet with the Dalai Lama, who is widely respected in the United States but branded a separatist by Beijing.
Obama also knows Chinese support is vital if he is to succeed in winning unanimous backing at the UN Security Council for the tough regime of sanctions he wants to impose on Iran for stepping up its suspect nuclear work.
Next week's meeting in Washington comes at a time when relations have already soured over the sale of a 6.4-billion-dollar package of US weapons to Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a Chinese territory.
Beijing last week said it "resolutely opposes" the planned visit by the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet into exile in India in 1959, especially any meetings with US leaders.
The Dalai Lama, 74, fled his homeland after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. That came nine years after Chinese troops were sent to take control of the region.
Date created : 2010-02-12