China takes swipe at US over Tibet, Taiwan

BEIJING: China today warned President Barack Obama not to meet the Dalai Lama and threatened diplomatic reprisals over US arms sales to Taiwan, widening an escalating feud between the world’s top powers.

Beijing’s tough rhetoric piled pressure on a crucial relationship.

China and the US are working together on several pressing international disputes, including fraught negotiations aiming to curb the nuclear ambitions of North Korea and Iran.

But Beijing hinted today that it may no longer be willing to play by US rules on such key foreign policy issues, and blamed Washington for any negative consequences.

“China-US relations, in important international and regional issues, will

inevitably be influenced (by the Taiwan deal) and the responsibility completely lies with the United States,” foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

On Tibet, Beijing reiterated its long-standing opposition to any meeting between Obama and the Dalai Lama, who is accused by China of fomenting separatist dissent in his Himalayan homeland.

Such a meeting would “seriously undermine the political foundation of Sino-US relations,” Zhu Weiqun, executive vice minister of the Communist Party body that handles contact with the Dalai Lama, told a news conference.

“If the US leader chooses to meet with the Dalai Lama at this time, it will certainly threaten trust and cooperation between China and the United States,” Zhu said.

The Dalai Lama is due to visit Washington later this month, but no meeting with the US president has been announced.

Exiles reject warning

Dharamshala: Tibet’s government in exile on Tuesday dismissed a strongly worded warning from China against any possible meeting between the Dalai Lama and US President Barack Obama. “From our perspective, we feel the role of the United States is to facilitate a just and honest dialogue between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and the government of China,” said the exiled government’s spoke-sman, Thubten Samphel. “So there is nothing wrong in a meeting between the president and His Holiness,” Samphel said.

Dalai Lama ‘no separatist’

Dharamshala: Envoys of the Dalai Lama on Tuesday said they had urged China in talks last week to stop labelling the exiled Tibetan leader a separatist. In a statement issued a day after their return from the meeting in China, the two envoys said they had refuted Beijing’s portrait of the Dalai Lama as a pro-independence activist bent on personal and political empowerment.

“We called upon the Chinese side to stop these baseless accusations against His Holiness and labelling him a separatist,” the statement said.