Law scholar chosen to assume political powers currently held by the Dalai Lama.
|The White House said the Dalai Lama told Obama during Saturday’s meeting he was not seeking independence for Tibet|
China has accused the US of “grossly” interfering in its internal affairs and seriously damaging relations after President Barack Obama met the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, at the White House.
Obama met the Nobel Prize laureate for 45 minutes on Saturday, praising him for embracing non-violence while reiterating that the United States did not support independence for Tibet.
China, which accuses the Dalai Lama of being a separatist who supports the use of violence to set up an independent Tibet, reacted swiftly, saying Obama’s meeting had had a “baneful” impact, and summoning a senior US diplomat to complain.
“This action is a gross interference in China’s internal affairs, hurts the feelings of the Chinese people and damages Sino-US relations,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement released in the early hours of Sunday.
“The Dalai Lama has for a long time used the banner of religion to engage in anti-China splittist activities,” he added.
“We demand the United States conscientiously handle China’s principled and just stance, immediately take steps to remove the baneful impact, stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and stop abetting in and supporting ‘Tibet independence’ anti-China splittist forces.”
China’s vice foreign minister summoned Robert Wang, the charge d’affaires at the US embassy in Beijing, to make an official complaint.
The Dalai Lama has denied China’s accusations and said he wants a peaceful transition to autonomy for Tibet, a remote Himalayan region in the country’s southwest.
The White House said in a statement that the Dalai Lama told Obama he was not seeking independence for Tibet and hoped that “dialogue between his representatives and the Chinese government can soon resume”.
“The president stressed that he encourages direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences and that a dialogue that produces results would be positive for China and Tibetans,” the statement said.
The president also noted the “importance he attaches to building a US-China cooperative partnership”, the White House said.
“The president reiterated his strong support for the preservation of the unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions of Tibet and the Tibetan people throughout the world,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said in a statement after the meeting.
The Dalai Lama also met members of both parties in the House of Representatives: top Republican John Boehner and Democrat Nancy Pelosi, the minority leader.
‘Felt close’ to Obama
Earlier on Saturday, Chinese officials had urged the US to cancel the meeting.
The Dalai Lama voiced happiness about the meeting and said he felt close to Obama at a “human level.”
Obama is “president of the greatest democratic country, so naturally he is showing concern about basic human values, human rights, religious freedom”, the Dalai Lama said after the meeting.
“So naturally he shows genuine concern about the suffering in Tibet and also some other places.”
The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959.
China says he’s welcome to return if he drops his separatist activities, accepts Tibet as an inalienable part of China and recognises Taiwan as a province of China.
Obama last met the Dalai Lama in February 2010.