Slamming Washington for awarding the Congressional medal to the Dalai Lama, an infuriated China on Thursday summoned the US ambassador in Beijing and demanded "concrete steps to protect bilateral ties which have been gravely undermined".
"The move of the United States is a blatant interference in China's internal affairs. It has hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and has gravely undermined relations between China and the United States," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao.
He was reacting to the meeting between US President George W Bush and the Dalai Lama as well as the awarding of the country's top honour to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.
China, which considers the Dalai Lama a separatist, had already denounced the award as a farce that will hurt relations between Beijing and Washington.
The spokesman also asked the US to take concrete steps to protect Sino-US relations.Liu said Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi summoned Clark Randit, the US Ambassador to Beijing, and lodged a 'solemn protest' for disregarding repeated Chinese requests not to honour the Dalai Lama.
The 72-year-old Tibetan leader, who has lived in exile in India since fleeing his predominantly Buddhist homeland in 1959, received the US Congressional Gold Medal from President George W Bush on Wednesday.
Earlier, while responding to China' criticism, Bush had called for an end to religious repression in China as he defiantly became the first US leader to appear in public with the Dalai Lama.