Chinese officials warned the United States not to honor the Dalai Lama, saying a planned award ceremony for the Tibetan spiritual leader would have “an extremely serious impact” on relations between the two countries.
Speaking at a Foreign Ministry briefing and on the sidelines of the Communist Party’s ongoing 17th National Congress, the officials condemned the Dalai Lama as a resolute separatist and said foreign leaders must stop encouraging his “splittist” mission.
The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile since the Chinese army crushed an uprising in his homeland in 1959, is revered as the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhists. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate is scheduled to receive the Congressional Gold Medal on Wednesday after President Bush hosts him at the White House today.
China has pressed the United States to cancel the award event for months. Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao said today that Beijing was “strong dissatisfied” and warned of an “extremely serious impact” if the events are held as scheduled. But he did not say what steps China planned to take.
This week, Beijing pulled out of a meeting at which leading world powers are to discuss Iran’s nuclear program. Chinese officials cited “technical reasons” for not participating, but they left the clear impression that they might downgrade support for international efforts to stop Iran’s nuclear program if foreign powers interfere in China’s internal affairs.
China also recently canceled its annual human rights dialogue with Germany to protest German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s September meeting with the Dalai Lama.