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China warns against Obama-Dalai Lama meeting

February 3, 2010

February 3, 2010

BEIJING (Reuters) - China warned President Barack
Obama on Wednesday that a meeting between him and
the Dalai Lama would further erode ties between
the two powers, already troubled by Washington's arms sales to Taiwan.

The White House confirmed on Tuesday that Obama
will meet the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan
Buddhist leader reviled by Beijing as a
"separatist" for seeking self-rule for his homeland.

China's response to the announcement underscored
the tensions in ties between the world's biggest
and third biggest economies, with the Chinese
Foreign Ministry saying President Hu Jintao
himself had urged Obama not to meet the exiled Tibetan leader.

Ma Zhaoxu, the Chinese Foreign Ministry
spokesman, said his government "resolutely
opposes the leader of the United States having
contact with the Dalai under any pretext or in
any form," according to a statement on the ministry's website (

Ma said that during Obama's summit with Hu last
November, the Chinese leader "explained China's
stern position of resolutely opposing any
government leaders and officials meeting the Dalai."

"We urge the U.S. to fully grasp the high
sensitivity of the Tibetan issues, to prudently
and appropriately deal with related matters, and
avoid bringing further damage to China-U.S. relations," said Ma.

China's angry response to the White House
announcement was predictable, as was the White
House's confirmation of the meeting.

But the flare-up comes soon after Beijing lashed
Washington over a $6.4 billion U.S. weapons
package for Taiwan, the self-ruled island that
Beijing deems an illegitimate breakaway province.

It also adds to Sino-U.S. tensions over the value
of China's currency, trade protectionism and Internet freedoms.

The White House shrugged off Beijing's earlier
warnings about the meeting between Obama and the
Dalai Lama, which may happen as early as this month.

"The president told China's leaders during his
trip last year that he would meet with the Dalai
Lama and he intends to do so," White House
spokesman Bill Burton told reporters traveling with Obama to New Hampshire.
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