China calls on Obama to cancel Dalai Lama meeting

The Dalai Lama in a July file photo
Image caption,
The Tibetan spiritual leader last met President Obama in February 2010

China has complained about US President Barack Obama's scheduled meeting on Saturday with exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

China's foreign ministry urged Mr Obama to cancel the White House engagement, which is expected to last half an hour.

The private discussion is intended to show Mr Obama's support for Tibet's identity, the White House said.

Mr Obama's last meeting with the Dalai Lama in February 2010 drew strong condemnation from Beijing.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement on Saturday: "We firmly oppose any senior foreign government officials meeting with the Dalai Lama in any way."

The White House did not immediately return a call seeking comment about Beijing's displeasure.

But the White House said earlier in a statement announcing the meeting: "The president will highlight his enduring support for dialogue between the Dalai Lama's representatives and the Chinese government to resolve differences."

Bishop row

Separately, China has been angrily criticised by the Vatican for ordaining a bishop without the Pope's backing.

Huang Bingzhang, who was ordained in Guangdong province by the communist-backed Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, has now been excommunicated by the Vatican.

"The Holy See does not recognise him as Bishop of the Diocese of Shantou, and he lacks authority to govern the Catholic community of the Diocese," a Vatican statement said.

Pope Benedict XVI "deplores the manner in which the church in China is being treated," the statement added.

Some Chinese Catholics are members of the communist-approved church, while others continue to pledge allegiance direct to the Vatican.