China condemns US meeting with Dalai Lama
China has condemned United States president Barack Obama’s meeting with the Dalai Lama as “seriously damaging” to the ties between the two world powers.
The largely ceremonial event was low key but the fact that a meeting took place at all was enough to upset Beijing, who have responded with vehemence.
“The US act amounted to serious interference in Chinese domestic affairs, and has seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and seriously damaged China-US relations,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement on the ministry website.
He says the US should “immediately take effective steps to eradicate the maligning effects” of the meeting.
“Use concrete actions to promote the healthy and stable development of Sino-US relations,” Mr Ma said.
The Chinese Xinhua news agency says the Chinese vice-foreign minister, Cui Tiankui, has “lodged solemn representations” with US Ambassador Jon Huntsman.
The China National Association of International Studies’ director and veteran Beijing insider, Victor Gao, said a stern reaction from China was to be expected.
“For the head of state of a major country like the United States to meet with his holiness the Dalai Lama in his official capacity is considered by Beijing as a major affront to the Chinese position,” he said.
“It also undermines China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as far as Tibet is concerned.
“Secondly, I think the timing is very disturbing. This is mainly because right now in the world there are many, many major issues including nuclear weapons proliferation in Iran and in North Korea which require close cooperation between China and the United States and other major countries.
“I think this will create huge disincentive for China to treat the United States really as a reliable and trustworthy partner in cooperating on these major issues in the world.”
The meeting has increased China’s aggravation, already sparked by the $US6 billion ($6.7 billion) in weapons sales to Taiwan and the trade war over tariffs.
But Adam Segal from the Council on Foreign Relations says he does not think the meeting will have long-term effects.
“In the short term the Chinese are angry,” he said.
“They’ve already cancelled some military-to-military contacts in part because of this arms sale to Taiwan, and in part because of the meeting with the Dalai Lama.
“But long term I think the relationship will eventually start to improve.”
Mr Segal says if China retaliates by cancelling president Hu Jintao’s visit to the US in April, it might not be a bad thing.
“I think that actually might be a good thing,” Mr Segal said.
“I think the way the relations are right now they’re pretty tense [and] I can’t see anything positive coming out of a meeting in April.
“So for him to push it back I think would be a good thing for both sides.”
The White House has issued a statement declaring the US president’s strong support for the preservation of Tibet’s unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity, and commending the Dalai Lama’s non-violent approach and pursuit of dialogue with China.
Source: ABC News