China complains to Obama Dalai Lama meeting
US ambassador summoned in Beijing but no retaliation threatened as countries play down friction in Sino-US relations.
Beijing summoned the US ambassador to complain about Barack Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama.
The foreign ministry also demanded that Washington act to improve ties, warning in a statement that the US president’s meeting had “grossly violated norms governing international relations”.
But China did not threaten retaliation of any kind and its response was relatively measured, reflecting the low-key nature of the event and the fact that Obama’s predecessors also met the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
The move comes amid tensions between the two countries over issues including arms sales to Taiwan, trade, tackling nuclear proliferation and internet censorship. But both Washington and Beijing appear keen to play down the friction.
In a statement published on the foreign ministry and Chinese media websites, spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said Washington should stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and take concrete action – which he did not specify – to “wipe out the baneful impact” and maintain the healthy and steady growth of Sino-US relations.
Obama spent more than an hour with the Dalai Lama in the Map Room of the White House rather than the Oval Office.
Barack Obama voiced support for “Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in the People’s Republic of China” and encouraged the Dalai Lama to continue seeking dialogue with China.
Following the White House meeting, the Dalai Lama said Obama had been “very much supportive” and had shown real concern for Tibet.