China Voices 'Dissatisfaction' Over Dalai Lama Visit

U.S. Ambassador to Beijing was summoned over Obama's meeting with Dalai Lama.

ByABC News
February 19, 2010, 7:16 AM

BEIJING, Feb. 18, 2010— -- China wasted little time to express its anger over President Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama. Despite the week-long Lunar New Year holiday, Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai summoned U.S. Ambassador Jon Huntsman this morning to express the Chinese government's "strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition" against the meeting.

Obama's meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader Thursday "grossly interfered in China's internal affairs, gravely hurt the Chinese people's national sentiments and seriously damaged Sino-U.S. ties," according to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry spokesman.

The statement reiterated Beijing's view that "issues concerning Tibet are purely internal affairs of China" and described the Dalai Lama as "not a pure religious figure but a political exile who has all along been engaged in separatist activities under the pretext of religion."

It went on to say that the meeting "grossly violated the basic norms governing international relations and ran counter to the principles" governing U.S.-China relations.

U.S. Embassy spokeswoman Susan Stevenson said Hunstman responded to the Chinese vice foreign minister by saying that "now is the time to move forward and cooperate in ways that benefit our two countries, the region and the world."

Although Chinese anger over the meeting echoed its previous protests against the Dalai Lama's encounters with previous U.S. presidents and other foreign political leaders, the language of the Foreign Ministry statement was relatively restrained and did not include any threat of retaliation.

Professor Jin Canrong of the School of International Studies at Beijing's Renmin University said "the response from the Foreign Ministry was routine, there was nothing special in it."

After all, Jin said, "On the surface, the meeting in Washington was a routine meeting, it was just like earlier meetings with the Dalai Lama."