China on Saturday summoned the United States Charge d'Affaires in Beijing and lodged a strong diplomatic protest over the meeting between President Barack Obama and Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama.
Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui summoned Daniel Kritenbrink, charge d'Affaires of US Embassy in China, to lodge solemn representations over Obama's meeting with the Dalai Lama disregarding China's strong opposition, the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Zhang said such a wrong move gravely interfered in China's internal affairs, seriously violated the US commitment of not supporting "Tibet independence", gravely violated basic norms governing international relations and seriously undermined China-US relations.
"China expresses strong indignation and firm opposition," Zhang said.
The meeting is a serious violation of the basic norms of international relations and caused serious damage to US-China relations, the foreign ministry statement was quoted by the state-run Xinhua news agency as saying.
Obama offered "strong support" for human rights activists in Tiber when he met the Dalai Lama.
Obama, during the meeting, extended support to the Dalai Lama's "Middle Way" approach of neither assimilation nor independence for Tibetans in China.
The White House' announcement -- about Obama's third meeting with the spiritual leader -- drew a sharp reaction from China, which has long opposed foreign dignitaries meeting the Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959.
Earlier, China had lodged a diplomatic protest soon after the White House announced the meeting and later, foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying sought its cancellation, saying that it would seriously impair bilateral ties.
Hua told a media briefing, "We are deeply concerned and have lodged solemn representations with the US side."
"We must point out that Tibet-related affairs fall entirely within the internal affairs of China which allow no foreign interference. The Dalai Lama is a political exile who has long been engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the cloak of religion," she said.
"By arranging a meeting between the President and the Dalai Lama, the US side will grossly interfere in the internal affairs of China, seriously violate norms governing international relations and severely impair China-US relations," Hua had said ahead of the meeting.
Obama and the Dalai Lama -- both Nobel Peace Prize laureates -- have met twice before, in 2010 and 2011, drawing similar protests from China.
Image: US President Barack Obama with the Dalai Lama