China 'resolutely' opposes Obama-Dalai Lama meet

BEIJING: China expressed "resolute" opposition to President Barack Obama's planned meeting with the Dalai Lama, saying it would further strain ties between the world powers.

Tibet and the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader are among the issues China views with great sensitivity. China accuses the Dalai Lama of pushing for Tibetan independence, which he denies.

China warned late Friday that such meetings could further undermine relations with the U.S. Just a week ago, China cut some military ties with the U.S. and threatened sanctions against American companies involved in a planned arms sale to Taiwan.

Every U.S. president for the last two decades has met with the Dalai Lama in a sign of an American commitment to human rights. But China considers official visits with him an insult.

Obama is scheduled to meet the Dalai Lama in Washington on Feb. 17-18.

"China resolutely opposes the visit by the Dalai Lama to the United States, and resolutely opposes U.S. leaders having contact with the Dalai Lama," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement late Friday.

Chinese President Hu Jintao is expected to visit Washington in April.

Obama has already faced opposition from some in the United States for putting off an earlier chance to meet the Dalai Lama when he visited Washington last fall.

The administration has been under scrutiny by some for its approach to China, especially after Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said during a trip to China a year ago that human rights should not interfere with improving U.S.-China ties.

China maintains that Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries, but many Tibetans say the region was functionally independent for much of its history.