China isn't happy that U.S. President Barack Obama met with the Dalai Lama and warned that the meeting could damage relations between the U.S. and China.
"No matter in what way the US leader met with the Dalai Lama, the meeting violated the US promises of acknowledging Tibet as a part of China, not supporting Tibet independence and not supporting separatist activities," Lu Kang, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, told reporters in Beijing, according to the AFP. "Such a meeting will hurt China-US mutual trust and cooperation."
But the Dalai Lama has met with Obama several times before and did so again during a private meeting in the White House Map Room on June 15.
"The personal nature of their meeting would explain why the president received the Dalai Lama in the White House residence, as opposed to the Oval Office," said White House press secretary Josh Earnest.
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Obama has described the Dalai Lama as a “good friend,” but the White House insisted that the president's warm reception of the Tibetan spiritual leader was not a rebuke of China.
"Tibet, per US policy, is considered part of the People's Republic of China, and the United States has not articulated our support for Tibetan independence,'' said Earnest, according to the BBC. "Both the Dalai Lama and President Obama value the importance of a constructive and productive relationship between the United States and China. All of those were policy positions of the United States before the meeting occurred. Our policy hasn't changed after the meeting.''
Although Obama has met with the Dalai Lama at the White House before, he was heavily criticized in 2010 for reportedly trying to minimize the visibility of his meeting with the spiritual leader by having him leave the White House through a back door and walk past piles of trash.
“Dalai Lama Trots Past White House Trash” read a Fox News headline at the time.
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But in 2015 at the prayer breakfast in Washington, D.C., Obama made the Dalai Lama a top guest and publicly described him as "a powerful example of what it means to practice compassion,” according to the AFP.