China on Thursday sharply criticised US special coordinator for Tibetan issues Uzra Zeya's meeting with the Dalai Lama and her visit to Dharamshala, saying it violated Washington's commitment that Tibet is part of China and it does not support Tibetan separatists.
Zeya met the Dalai Lama in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, on Thursday and discussed the rich traditions of freedom and democracy in the United States and India.
The Tibetan government-in-exile, in a press statement, said that during the brief audience, Zeya expressed US President Joe Biden and the American people's greetings to the Dalai Lama.
Zeya who was on a two-day visit to Dharamshala -- home of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile -- also expressed the gratitude of the world for the messages of peace that the Dalai Lama espouses.
The Chinese foreign ministry criticised Zeya's visit, calling it an interference in China's internal affairs.
"Tibet is part of China and Tibetan religious affairs is China's internal affairs," China's foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a media briefing when asked about the Indian-origin senior US diplomat's meeting with the 86-year-old top Tibetan Buddhist leader.
The US's appointment of a special coordinator for Tibetan Issues is an interference in China's internal affairs, he said, adding that China firmly objects to it and has never recognised it.
"The US should earnestly abide by its commitment that Tibet is a part of China and not supporting Tibet's independence," Zhao said.
"It should not provide any support for separatist activities by the anti-China Dalai clique. China will continue to take measures firmly to defend its sovereignty, security and development interests,” he said.
On Wednesday, Zeya visited the Central Tibetan Administration and held discussions with its leadership. She also visited the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile, the Tibetan Institute of Performing Arts, the Tibet Museum, and also met with members of the Tibetan civil society.
"I would like to say that the so-called Tibetan government in exile is an out and out separatist political group. It is a grave violation of China's constitution and law,” Zhao said.
"It is illegal and is not recognised by any country in the world. The 14th Dalai is a political exile disguised as a religious person and engages in anti-China separatist activities and attempting to split Tibet from China," he said.
The Dalai Lama has been living in India ever since he fled Tibet in 1959 following a Chinese invasion on Tibet. The Tibetan government-in-exile operates from Dharamsala. Over 1,60,000 Tibetans live in India.