China against Obama-Dalia Lama meet
Any meeting between President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama would harm bilateral relations, China warned yesterday while repeating Beijing's refusal to discuss Tibet's status with the spiritual leader's envoys.
An Obama meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader would "seriously undermine the political foundation of Sino-US relations," said Zhu Weiqun, executive deputy head of the Communist Party's United Front Work Department in charge of recent talks with the Dalai Lama's representatives.
Zhu was speaking at a news conference where he said Chinese officials told the envoys that Beijing would not make any compromises on its sovereignty over the Himalayan region and that both sides' views remained "sharply divided."
The warning to Obama comes after signals from US officials in recent weeks that Obama might soon meet the exiled Tibetan leader something Chinese officials are keen to avoid before President Hu Jintao travels to Washington, possibly in April.
Zhu said any arguments that the Dalai Lama was just a religious figure were wrong, calling the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate the "head of a separatist group."
No date for Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama has been announced, but White House spokesman Mike Hammer said last month that "the President has made clear to the Chinese government that we intend to meet with the Dalai Lama, it has been his every intention." The White House did not immediately return a call seeking comment Monday night.
Bilateral relations have already been strained by the US announcement Friday that it planned to sell $6.4 billion worth of arms to Taiwan.
Beijing quickly suspended military exchanges with Washington and announced an unprecedented threat of sanctions against the US companies involved in the sale.
Zhu did not give any details on what China would do if Obama meets the Dalai Lama. "We will take corresponding measures to make the relevant countries realize their mistakes."
Representatives of the United Front met over the weekend with two emissaries of the Dalai Lama for their first talks in 15 months, but Zhu said China would discuss only the future of the exiled spiritual leader not any greater autonomy for Tibet.
"There is no room for negotiation or concession on the part of the central government on these issues," Zhu said.
At the last talks in 2008, China rejected a proposal presented by the Dalai Lama's envoys for a way for Tibetans to achieve more autonomy under the Chinese constitution a key demand of the minority community.