China protests, Britain defends Cameron-Dalai meet

China took strong exception to Cameron`s meet with Dalai Lama while London defended the "private get together".

Last Updated: May 15, 2012, 19:21 PM IST

Beijing/London: China on Tuesday took strong exception to British Prime Minister David Cameron`s meeting with Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama while London defended the "private get together", saying who the country`s leaders choose to see is a matter for them.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Song Tao summoned British ambassador Sebastian Wood to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here and made "solemn representations" on Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg`s meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader in London on Monday.

Song told Wood that the British leaders meeting the Dalai Lama was a "serious interference in China`s internal affairs".

The Dalai Lama`s meeting with Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at the 10 Downing Street was officially described as "private get together" by the British officials.

In London, a UK government spokesperson defended the meeting, saying "who the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister see is a matter for them".

"Regardless of China`s repeated representations the UK still arranged Prime Minister Cameron and other UK leaders to meet Dalai. This is a serious interference in China`s internal affairs and an affront to the Chinese people besides undermining China-UK relations," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a media briefing here on Tuesday.

He said the Tibetan issues are China`s internal affairs.

"Dalai is a long term political exile who is engaged in anti-China activities in the name of religion. China is a firmly against any country`s to leaders meet with him in anyway and oppose any country or any individual use of Tibet related issues to interfere in China`s internal affairs," he said.

"We demand the UK to take China`s firm position and requirement seriously," he said, adding Britain should stop "self condoning and supporting Tibet independent separatist forces" and take immediate and effective measure to undo the damage.
Britain should adopt concrete measures to uphold larger interests of China-UK relations, he said.

China routinely protests world leaders meeting the Dalai Lama. Last year, US President Barack Obama met the Tibetan spiritual leader in the White House despite vociferous protests from Beijing.

China considered the Dalai Lama as a separatist seeking independence for Tibet. However, the Tibetan spiritual leader says he is seeking "genuine autonomy" for his homeland.

PTI