Beijing urges US to withdraw Dalai Lama invite
China asked the United States to retract an invitation for Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, Dalai Lama, to meet with President Barack Obama at the White House, saying on Saturday that it could sour relations between the two countries, RIA Novosti reported.
The White House made first announcement about the meeting on Friday. It is expected to last at least 30 minutes and will be closed to the media, but the question of Tibet is likely to come up.
"We firmly oppose any foreign official to meet with the Dalai Lama in any form,'' Hong Lei, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.
Hong also called on Washington "honor its [China's] serious commitment that recognizes Tibet as part of China."
Obama last met the Dalai Lama in February 2010, in a visit that drew a strong denunciation from Beijing, which views the spiritual leader as a separatist intent on ending Chinese rule over the Himalayan region.
The Dalai Lama, who enjoys wide popularity in the United States, has repeatedly denied the accusations. The Nobel Peace Prize winner, a declared pacifist, says he is peacefully seeking rights for Tibetans and accepts Chinese rule.
Tibet has been a source of controversy for decades, since Beijing sent troops to occupy the country following the 1949 Communist revolution. It insists the region has been part of Chinese territory for centuries, a claim disputed by many Tibetans.