China today cautioned foreign countries against hosting the Dalai Lama and interfering in its domestic affairs on the vexed Tibet issue, a day after US President Barack Obama and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader appeared together in public for the first time.
“We are against foreign countries interfering in China’s domestic affairs under the pretext of Tibet-related issues,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.
“The Dalai Lama is seeking support from foreign counties to realise his political end, but he cannot succeed,” Hong said.
“The Dalai Lama is a political exile who has long been engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the pretext of religion,” he said.
Obama yesterday welcomed the Dalai Lama at a prayer breakfast in Washington, but did not meet him directly.
At the high-profile event, Obama hailed “good friend” Dalai Lama, calling him as an “inspiration for freedom and dignity.”
“I want to offer a special welcome to a good friend, his Holiness the Dalai Lama, who is a powerful example of what it means to practice compassion and who inspires us to speak up for the freedom and dignity of all human beings,” Obama said.
Chinese media criticised the US as a “trouble-maker” after Obama warmly acknowledged the Tibetan leader.
“Issues regarding Tibet concern China’s core interests and national sentiments. Beijing has long made it clear that the Dalai Lama, who has for decades tried to separate Tibet from China, should never be hosted by leaders of other countries,” official news agency Xinhua said.
“Chumming with a secessionist is playing with fire, which severely harms the mutual trust between China and the United States, and downgrades Obama’s credit as a national leader for breaking his commitments to China on the Tibet issue,” it said.
The news agency warned that Obama has “dampened the hard-won positive momentum in China-US relations” by meeting the Tibetan leader.
It was the first time when Obama and the Tibetan spiritual leader have been seen together in public. Three previous encounters have been held behind closed doors.
Previous meetings of Obama with the Dalai Lama have been met with fierce Chinese protests and some of the foreign leaders had dodged their meetings with the 79-year-old monk altogether.
Most recently, Pope Francis had refused to grant an audience to the Dalai Lama for fear of offending China. South Africa has repeatedly denied visa to the monk following protests by China.
Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of being a separatist seeking to split Tibet from the rest of China and tries its best to isolate the spiritual leader.
The 14th Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in his Himalayan homeland and has lived in exile in India ever since. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his advocacy for Tibet in the country and around the world.