China accuses US of domestic meddling

BEIJING: China accused the United States today of meddling in its domestic affairs after American lawmakers recognised the Dalai Lama with an award for his efforts to improve human rights.

The US Congress presented the award, which was in honour of the late US human rights activist Tom Lantos, to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader on Tuesday.

China reviles the Dalai Lama and has pressured foreign governments not to meet with the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

“We urge some members of the US Congress to respect the history and the facts, recognise the true face of Dalai Lama, stop using the Tibet issue to interfere in China’s internal affairs,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement posted on the ministry’s Web site.

The criticism comes

even though President Barack Obama did not meet the Dalai Lama

during the trip. Obama said he would not meet the spiritual leader until after he visits President Hu Jintao in November.

The Lantos Foundation president, Katrina Lantos Swett, called China’s criticism unwarranted and commended members of Congress for supporting the Dalai Lama.

“The Dalai Lama is one of the most highly honoured peacemakers of all time, and we are proud to present His Holiness the Dalai Lama with the inaugural Lantos Human Rights Prize,” Swett said in a

statement. “We can only hope that this award brings into public light the continuing human rights violations in Tibet, so that they can be addressed.”

The Obama administration, which needs Chinese support for crucial foreign policy, economic and

environmental goals,

must balance efforts to establish friendly ties

with China with the

desire to support the Dalai Lama, who has called for more autonomy for Tibetans. China says Tibet has been part of it for

four centuries, and it

has aggressively governed the Himalayan region

since 1951.

Many Tibetans say Chinese rule and economic exploitation are eroding their traditional culture.