China Chastises UK for Hosting Dalai Lama

Posted May 16th, 2012 at 4:30 am (UTC-5)
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Chinese state media on Wednesday warned of diplomatic retaliation against Britain after Prime Minister David Cameron held a private meeting with the Dalai Lama in London.

An editorial in the official Xinhua news agency called the Monday meeting a “dark moment in China-Britain relations” and said it amounted to “blatant interference in China's domestic affairs.”

Beijing routinely criticizes nations who host the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. China has long accused the Dalai Lama of trying to separate Tibet from China, a charge he denies.

The Communist Party-affiliated Global Times on Wednesday also called for “punitive actions” against Britain. It suggested that Beijing respond by suspending high-level communications with Britain, as well as unspecified economic cooperative projects.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hong Lei said Mr. Cameron “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people” in going ahead with the meeting despite Chinese objections.

“The UK ignored China's strong opposition, insisting on arranging for its Prime Minister David Cameron to meet with the Dalai Lama. It severely interfered in China's internal affairs, hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, damaged China-UK relations, and we are strongly discontented and firmly opposed to it.”

Hong said that China lodged a protest with the British Embassy in Beijing over the matter, while the Chinese Embassy in London delivered the same message to the British government.

The Dalai Lama stepped down as the leader of the Tibetan government in exile last year. He has repeatedly said he is not pushing for Tibetan independence, but instead wants dialogue with Chinese officials aimed at establishing Tibetan autonomy.

The Nobel laureate is greeted warmly by well-wishers across the world during his travels, which serve in part to draw attention to China's often-harsh 60-year rule in Tibet.