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Obama meeting with Dalai Lama rankles China

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama is hosting the Dalai Lama at the White House over the stern objection of China, which warned the meeting would "inflict grave damages" on the U.S. relationship with the Asian powerhouse.

Obama will greet the Tibetan spiritual leader and fellow Nobel laureate on Friday while the Dalai Lama is in the U.S. on a speaking tour. The White House did not announce the meeting until late Thursday, prompting a gruff complaint from Beijing in what has become something of a diplomatic ritual whenever Obama meets with the exiled Buddhist monk.

Urging Obama to cancel the meeting, China's government accused the president of letting the Dalai Lama use the White House as a podium to promote anti-Chinese activities.

"The U.S. leader's planned meeting with Dalai is a gross interference in China's domestic politics," said Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China's Foreign Ministry. "It is a severe violation of the principles of international relations. It will inflict grave damages upon the China-U.S. relationship."

Beijing routinely protests when world leaders grant an audience to the Dalai Lama, including when Obama met with him in 2010 and again in 2011. Chinese officials denounce the Dalai Lama as a separatist responsible for instigating self-immolations by Tibetans inside China, but he is widely respected around the world for his advocacy of peace and tolerance.

Obama was to host the Dalai Lama in the White House's Map Room, rather than the Oval Office, where the president traditionally brings a visiting leader for a round of photographs. The private meeting, closed to reporters, suggested an attempt to avoid the appearance of a formal meeting between two heads of state.

The U.S. had no immediate response to the rebuke from China. But in announcing the meeting earlier Thursday, the White House said Obama was meeting with the Dalai Lama in his capacity as a cultural and religious leader. As if to indicate an overreaction had been expected, officials reiterated that the U.S. recognizes Tibet as part of China and doesn't support Tibetan independence.

"The United States supports the Dalai Lama's 'Middle Way' approach of neither assimilation nor independence for Tibetans in China," said Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the White House's National Security Council. She added that presidents of both parties have met with the Dalai Lama for decades.

At the same time, officials said they were concerned about tensions and deteriorating human rights in China's Tibetan areas, urging Beijing to resume talks with the Dalai Lama or his followers without preconditions.

China, in its response to the meeting, said it had relayed its concerns formally to the U.S. and urged Washington to treat its concerns seriously. China bitterly opposes the Dalai Lama's quest for greater Tibetan autonomy and is wary of Obama's efforts to increase U.S. influence in the region.

Relations between the U.S. and China are already on edge over Beijing's increasingly aggressive steps to assert itself in the region, including in territorial disputes with its smaller neighbors. China's emergence as a leading global economic and military power has strained ties with Washington, and the two have also clashed over cyber theft and human rights.

A frequent visitor to the U.S., the Dalai Lama has lived in exile in northern India since fleeing China in 1959.

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abcstarfox 2013 February 22 2014 at 12:45 AM

The Dalai Lama fled TIBET....not China.

For the record....he has the right to visit anyone he wants....
that wants to see him. Inc. THE USA.

China, get it fixed....you are not in charge of this country.

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sulandherb February 21 2014 at 11:59 PM

I hope Obama has his meeting. While I have no use for O's politics in general, if he lets China decide his associations, then we might as well all learn to speak Chinese.

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stevieb4444 February 21 2014 at 11:03 PM

i am certainly not in support of our president. he lies, distorts the truth, manipulates the media,
and stalls on questions about his new health care law. but if he wants to visit the dalai lama and china does not like it....let them lump it. it is time we stand up to china and stop the nonsense.

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Kay February 21 2014 at 9:21 PM

And just why shouldn't the Dalai Lama not meet with Obama? China.....just what are you worried about? You do not tell us who we can invite to our country and White House, so just "deal with it!"

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bob February 21 2014 at 5:09 PM


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buddyhula February 21 2014 at 4:48 PM

Maybe we can destory our relationship with China and then bring our manufacturing back to the US. Then we will see how powerful they are.

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Joey February 21 2014 at 4:37 PM

You know I can't stand our phony inexperienced community organizer but then again I really feel the same way about China.

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LetTheTruthBeKnown February 21 2014 at 3:56 PM

Dolly Lama can do what he wants.. Bad bad China ~!

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ggblank1603 February 21 2014 at 3:48 PM

Did you know that the Dalai Lama is just some regular guy who happens to have the title at the time--kind of like the pope

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rod0939 February 21 2014 at 3:48 PM

Screw China!

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