A European diplomat calls the new decision “a victory for unity over haste.”
China regards the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate as a separatist and a traitor.
“We are furious,” Zhang Qingli, Tibet’s Communist party boss, told reporters in China. “If the Dalai Lama can receive such an award, there must be no justice or good people in the world.”
The White House denied that Bush’s private meeting with the Dalai Lama – the president’s fourth since taking office – was meddling in China’s internal affairs.
Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman, said: “We understand that the Chinese have very strong feelings about this.”
She explained that Bush gave his Chinese counterpart, Hu Jintao, early notice about him attending the awards ceremony and the Bush administration took pains to keep the meeting between low-key in an apparent bid to placate China.
China pulled out of a meeting this week at which world powers were to discuss Iran, in apparent protest at congress’s plan to honour the Dalai Lama with its highest civilian award.
China had also cancelled an annual human rights dialogue with Germany to show displeasure over Chancellor Angela Merkel’s September meeting with the Dalai Lama.
“I think China will strongly embrace economical reform if promises made by its president go ahead”
Mohamed Hassan, Galkayo, Somalia
Yang Jiechi, the Chinese foreign minister, said China had expressed “resolute opposition” to the US award.
“China has solemnly demanded the United States cancel the above-mentioned and extremely wrongful arrangement,” Yang told reporters.
Liu Jianchao, a foreign ministry spokesman, said if the decision to honour the Dalai Lama was not reversed it would have an “extremely serious impact” on bilateral relations.