Hong Kong: U.S. President Barack Obama is urged by China to call off a meeting at the White House with Dalai Lama the Tibetan spiritual leader which is scheduled to take place on Friday.
China claims that “by arranging a meeting between the President and the Dalai Lama, the U.S. side will grossly interfere in the internal affairs of China, seriously violate norms governing international relations and severely impair China-U.S. relations”
China responded with similarly angry comments when Obama met with the Dalai Lama twice before, in February 2010 and July 2011.
The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising, has long denied China’s assertion that he’s seeking Tibetan independence. He says he wants only enough autonomy to protect its traditional Buddhist culture.
The Obama administration says it supports the Dalai Lama’s “Middle Way” approach to the political tensions over protests for Tibetan independence.
“The United States recognizes Tibet to be a part of the People’s Republic of China and we do not support Tibetan independence,” said National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden. “The United States strongly supports human rights and religious freedom in China.”
At least 125 Tibetans have set themselves on fire over the past five years, most of them fatally, to protest Chinese rule, according to Tibetan advocacy groups.
Caitlin Hayden said “We are concerned about continuing tensions and the deteriorating human rights situation in Tibetan areas of China,” she continued saying that, “We will continue to urge the Chinese government to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama or his representatives, without preconditions, as a means to reduce tensions.”
China rejects accusations of oppression, saying that under its rule, living standards have greatly improved for the Tibetan people.
Beijing has strongly stated that, “Tibet-related affairs fall entirely within the internal affairs of China which allow no foreign interference.”
Similar situation was held when British Prime Minister David Cameron and the Dalai Lama met last year which cast a chill over relations between London and Beijing, delaying a visit to China by Cameron.