China today lodged a diplomatic protest with the US over a Congressional delegation’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in India, saying the move sent a “wrong signal” to the world and violated America’s commitment not to support Tibet’s independence. “The 14th Dalai Lama is a political exile who has long been engaged in anti-China separatist activities in foreign countries under the pretext of religion, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing. He was replying to questions on a US bipartisan Congressional delegation headed by House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi meeting the 81-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh.
“The Dalai Lama is also the head of the Tibetan independence group,” Geng said when asked whether the US delegation’s visit, which is the first after US President Donald Trump took over office in January, signals his administration’s policy towards Tibet. Geng said the US delegation’s visit to Dharamshala and their meeting with the Dalai Lama has “sent a very wrong signal to the outside world about supporting Tibetan independence and violated the US government’s commitment not to support Tibet’s independence.”
“We are firmly opposed to that and has lodged solemn representation with the American side. We urge the relevant Congressmen of the US to properly deal with the Tibetan related issues and stop all kinds of contacts with the Dalai Lama and take immediate measures to remove the negative impact,” he said. Earlier reports said China has urged Trump, who also had a summit meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, not to hold any meeting with the Dalai Lama. Previous American Presidents, including Barack Obama, had met the Dalai Lama.
After the meeting, Pelosi said, “As we visit His Holiness the Dalai Lama, our bipartisan delegation comes in his spirit of faith and peace. We come on this visit to be inspired by His Holiness and demonstrate our commitment to the Tibetan people, to their faith, their culture and their language.” The Dalai Lama told the delegation that he is “the longest guest of the Indian government”. He said he would be willing to visit China but it was not possible because Beijing considered him a “dangerous splittist.”
China routinely protests to countries hosting the Dalai Lama or world leaders meeting with him. Last month, China lodged a diplomatic protest with India over the Dalai Lama’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh, which China claims as part of Southern Tibet. In an apparent retaliatory measure, China also announced “standardised” Chinese names for six places in Arunachal Pradesh.