China warns US against Dalai Lama meeting

The Dalai Lama fled Chinese-ruled Tibet in 1959
© AFP Saul Loeb

AFP

BEIJING (AFP) – China on Thursday warned the United States against holding official talks with the Dalai Lama, as thousands of people in Washington gathered to celebrate the Tibetan spiritual leader’s birthday.

“We are firmly against the Dalai Lama engaging in activities aimed at splitting the motherland through overseas visits,” foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei told journalists.

“We are firmly opposed to foreign governments or any political figures supporting and encouraging such activities.”

Hong’s remarks came after crowds flocked to a Washington arena Wednesday to kick off a 10-day Buddhist ritual known as a Kalachakra to mark the 76th birthday of the Dalai Lama.

Beijing accuses the Buddhist leader of being a separatist determined to establish an independent Tibet — charges the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner has long denied.

The Dalai Lama fled Chinese-ruled Tibet in 1959 and has lived in exile in the Indian hill town of Dharamshala ever since.

On Tuesday, a senior US State Department official met with him and discussed the US’s “strong” support for Tibet, the department said in a statement.

He is set to meet Thursday with lawmakers including Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the top House member from President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party.

The White House has not said whether Obama will meet the Dalai Lama, a move that would be certain to anger China, which has tried for years to isolate the Tibetan spiritual leader despite his global popularity.

“We hope the US will strictly abide by its commitments on the Tibet religious issue, proceed from the overall interests of bilateral relations and cautiously and properly handle the relevant issue,” Hong said.

© AFPPublished at Activist Post with license

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