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Asia-pacific

China summons US ambassador over Dalai Lama meeting

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2010-02-19

Beijing has summoned the US ambassador in Beijing to protest against President Barack Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama, warning that it had "seriously undermined" relations between the two countries.

REUTERS - China summoned the U.S. ambassador on Friday to complain about President Barack Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader Beijing reviles as a separatist.

Obama held a low-key meeting with the Dalai Lama in the face of wider tensions over U.S. weapons sales to self-ruled Taiwan, China's currency practices, trade disputes and Internet censorship, risking further damage to strained Sino-U.S. ties.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said the meeting "violated the U.S. government's repeated acceptance that Tibet is a part of China and it does not support Tibetan independence".

Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister Cui Tiankui later "lodged solemn representations" with U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Chinese troops marched into Tibet in 1950. The Dalai Lama fled in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

The United States, like most of the world, recognises Beijing's "one China" policy which holds that Tibet and Taiwan are part of China. Only 23 countries recognise Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province.

Beijing accuses the Dala Lama of fomenting unrest and seeking to split Tibet from China. The Dalai Lama says he is merely seeking greater autonomy.

In the predominantly Tibetan region of Tongren in northwest China's Qinghai province, monks expressed their support for the Obama meeting, saying they celebrated the event with a large firework display.

"This is great news for the Tibetans," said Jokhar, a local monk. "We don't care that it makes the government angry. It makes us very happy that Obama met him."

Tsering, a Tibetan celebrating the lunar new year on Thursday, smiled when he heard the meeting was about to take place.

"It lets us know we have not been forgotten," he said.

Obama encouraged China and the Dalai Lama's envoys to keep up efforts to resolve their differences through negotiations, despite recent talks having yielded little progress.

Beijing did not threaten retaliation and its response was in line with past denunciations of U.S. dealings with the Dalai Lama. But the visit could complicate Obama's efforts to secure China's help on key issues such as imposing tougher sanctions on Iran and forging a new global accord on climate change.

 

Date created : 2010-02-19

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