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China summons US official in Dalai Lama row

Beijing accuses US of interfering in internal affairs by hosting Tibetan spiritual leader in visit it warned against.

Last updated: 22 Feb 2014 09:34
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Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader's US visit sparked fury in Beijing [Reuters]

China's foreign ministry has summoned a senior US embassy official in China after US President Barack Obama held low-key talks with the Dalai Lama at the White House despite warnings from Beijing the meeting would damage ties.

Tibetan issues fall purely into the domestic affairs of China. The US has no right to interfere.

Zhang Yesui, Chinese vice foreign minister

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui summoned Daniel Kritenbrink, charge d'affaires of the US embassy, on Friday night, according to a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry's website, where he expressed his country's rejection of "US interference in China's internal issues."

"China expressed strong indignation and firm opposition" to the "erroneous acts" of the US in interfering in China's internal issues, Zhang said in the statement, the Reuters news agency reported.

The talks between the Dalai Lama and Obama went ahead on Friday, despite China warning against the visit and urging the US to cancel it. Paying no heed to Beijing's threats, Obama offered "strong support" for the protection of Tibetans' human rights in China during the one-hour meeting with the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Beijing considers Tibet an integral part of its territory and regards the Dalai Lama as a separatist. The Tibetan spiritual leader has lived in exile in India since 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. 

"Tibetan issues fall purely into the domestic affairs of China," Zhang said in the statement. "The US has no right to interfere."

The meeting with the Dalai Lama "will seriously sabotage China-US relations and surely impair the interests of the US itself," he said, adding that "the US must take concrete actions to win the trust of the Chinese government and its people," he said.

'Wolf in sheep's clothing'

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang voiced the same accusations, the Agence-France Press news agency reported, saying in a statament issued after the meeting that "the US seriously interfered in China's internal affairs by allowing the Dalai's visit to the United States and arranging the meetings with US leaders."

"We urge the US to take China's concerns seriously, stop tolerance and support of anti-China separatist forces, cease interfering in China's internal affairs and immediately take measures to eliminate its baneful influence to avoid further impairment to China-US relations."

China calls the Dalai Lama a "wolf in sheep's clothing" who seeks to use violent methods to establish an independent Tibet. The Dalai Lama says he only wants genuine autonomy for Tibet and denies advocating violence. 

In a statement issued by the White House, Obama said he did not support Tibetan independence from China and the Dalai Lama said he was not seeking it.

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