President Obama met with the Dalai Lama on Friday, brushing off warnings from Chinese officials that the meeting would harm U.S.-China relationships.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said that the United States, by taking the meeting, would “will grossly interfere in the internal affairs of China” and “seriously violate norms governing international relations and severely impair China-U.S. relations.”
It’s the third time Obama has met with the Dalai Lama since being elected, and the first meeting of his second term. Chinese officials had a similar reaction to previous meetings.
The president encouraged “direct dialogue to resolve long-standing differences,” between China and Tibetans, according to a statement from the White House, but Obama noted that the U.S. position is that Tibet is a part of China and “does not support Tibet independence.”
Chunying said by taking the meeting the United States was facilitating and providing a platform for the Dalai Lama “to carry out anti-China separatist activities in the US.”
But the Dalai Lama, who has been in exile since 1959, told the president that he is not asking for Tibet to be an independent country.
Administration officials have voiced their concern over tensions between the Chinese government and Tibetans, and the president, in Friday’s meeting, reiterated his support for the “protection of human rights for Tibetans,” as well as his appreciation for the Dalai Lama’s “commitment to peace and nonviolence.”