China Urges Obama to Cancel Meeting with Dalai Lama

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - China urged the United States on Friday to scrap plans for President Barack Obama to meet exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama later in the day, warning it would "seriously damage" ties between the two countries.

China Urges Obama to Cancel Meeting with Dalai Lama

The White House National Security Council said Obama would meet the Dalai Lama, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, at the White House on Friday in a show of concern about China's human rights practices.

China calls the Dalai Lama a "wolf in sheep's clothing" who seeks to use violent methods to establish an independent Tibet. The Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959, maintains he only wants genuine autonomy for Tibet and denies advocating violence.

"The United States' arrangement for its leader to meet the Dalai would be a gross interference in China's internal affairs and is a serious violation of the norms of international relations," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

"It will seriously damage Sino-US relations. We urge the United States to take seriously China's concerns, immediately cancel plans for the US leader to meet the Dalai, do not facilitate and provide a platform for Dalai's anti-China separatist activities in the United States," she added, Reuters reported.

The announcement comes at a delicate time for Sino-US relations. The United States has expressed concern about China's increasingly assertive behavior in the East China Sea and South China Sea and Obama's US strategic pivot, or rebalancing, toward Asia, is seen as a reaction to the growing clout of China.

At the same time, both countries are increasingly inter-dependent and have to cooperate on international issues such as Iran and North Korea. China is also the United States' biggest foreign creditor. As of July 31, China held $1.28 trillion in US Treasury bonds, according to Treasury Department data.

A senior Chinese official vowed this week to ignore foreign pressure on human rights, and said foreign leaders who meet the Dalai Lama should "pay a price" for it.

But previous meetings between Obama and the Dalai Lama have not had serious repercussions.

In 2011, after the last meeting between the two, China responded with predictably vehement words but stopped short of threatening retaliation, indicating that Beijing was keen to avoid tensions between the world's biggest economies.

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