China yesterday accused the US of meddling in its domestic affairs after US President Barack Obama met the Dalai Lama at the White House on Friday and said it is up to Washington to take steps to avoid further damaging ties.
“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,” Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Qin Gang (秦剛) said in a statement.
“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,” he added.
China had warned on Friday after news broke of the planned meeting that an encounter between Obama and the Dalai Lama would damage relations between Washington and Beijing, and urged the US to cancel it.
Beijing considers Tibet an integral part of its territory and regards the Dalai Lama as a separatist.
However, the meeting went ahead with Obama on Friday offering his “strong support” for the protection of Tibetans’ human rights in China.
Obama’s private meeting with his fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate lasted for about an hour, during which the US president reaffirmed his support for Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic traditions and human rights for Tibetans, the White House said.
Obama said he did not support Tibetan independence from China and the Dalai Lama said he was not seeking it, the White House said in a statement.
White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters: “We’re concerned about continuing tensions and the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas of China. We will continue to urge the Chinese government to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives without pre-conditions as a means to reduce tensions.”
To encourage those talks, US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday he had named one of his officials, Sarah Sewall, as a special coordinator for Tibetan Issues.
Sewall was sworn in on Thursday as an undersecretary responsible for human rights issues, a post which traditionally has involved work on Tibet.
In what appeared to be a small concession to the Chinese, the visit was held in the White House Map Room, a historically important room but of less significance than the more prestigious Oval Office.
“This meeting sends a powerful message of hope to Tibetans in Tibet who are undergoing immense suffering,” Lobsang Sangay, leader of the Central Tibetan Administration, the Tibetan government-in-exile, said in a statement
Late on Friday in Beijing, Chinese Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Zhang Yesui (張業遂) summoned the charge d’affaires at the US embassy to protest the meeting, the ministry said in a separate statement.
“China expressed strong indignation and firm opposition” to the “erroneous acts” of the US in interfering in China’s internal issues, the ministry quoted Zhang as saying.
The ministry statement identified the US official by a Chinese name, but Xinhua news agency in an English-language report gave his name as Daniel Kritenbrink.
“Tibetan issues fall purely into the domestic affairs of China,” Zhang said. “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 added. “The US must take concrete actions to win the trust of the Chinese government and its people.”