China has criticized U.S. President Barack Obama's meeting Thursday with the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, saying it goes against the commitments the U.S. has made to Beijing.
Just hours after the meeting ended in Washington, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu responded through state-run media. He said the meeting went against repeated commitments by the U.S. government to recognize Tibet as a part of China, and not support Tibetan independence.
During the meeting President Obama told the Dalai Lama he strongly supports preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity, and the protection of human rights for Tibetans in China.
A statement from the White House said the president commended the Dalai Lama's commitment to nonviolence and his pursuit of dialogue with the Chinese government. It said the two leaders agreed on the importance of a "positive and cooperative" U.S.-China relationship.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, the Dalai Lama said he is "very happy" and it was a great honor to see the president. He said he and Mr. Obama discussed the promotion of religious harmony and human values, and the increased role of women in leadership roles.
China regularly protests U.S. contacts with the Dalai Lama. Beijing last week called on the U.S. to "immediately withdraw" the Dalai Lama's invitation to the White House.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also meeting with the Dalai Lama Thursday.
The White House talks took place a room called the Map Room, and not in Mr. Obama's official office, the Oval Office. The White House released an official photograph from the meeting, which was closed to the press.
The Dalai Lama said he expressed his thanks Mr. Obama for always is showing his genuine concern about Tibet and other global issues, including during his visit last year to Beijing.
China's Foreign Ministry said last week the meeting could further damage U.S.-China relations, which have recently been strained by a planned U.S. weapons sale to Taiwan, disagreements over China's currency exchange rate and U.S. concerns over Chinese Internet censorship.
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. He says he is not seeking independence for Tibet, just greater autonomy. China considers him a separatist.