China denounces interference after Obama welcomes Dalai Lama


China is opposed to foreign countries receiving the Dalai Lama, a government spokesman said Friday, a day after US President Barack Obama held a symbolic first public encounter with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

“We are against foreign countries interfering in China’s domestic affairs under the pretext of Tibet-related issues,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters.

“The Dalai Lama is seeking support from foreign counties to realise his political end, but he cannot succeed,” Hong said, calling the spiritual leader “a political exile who has long been engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the pretext of religion”.

At a high-profile Washington prayer breakfast Thursday, Obama heaped praise on the Nobel Peace Prize winner, who is reviled by Beijing.

“I want to offer a special welcome to a good friend,” said Obama — also a Nobel laureate — describing the Dalai Lama as “a powerful example of what it means to practise compassion.

“It was the first time the two men have been seen together in public. Three previous encounters have been held behind closed doors — and outside the Oval Office — to avoid risking relations with China.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking to split Tibet from the rest of China and has called him a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.”