Beijing (AsiaNews) - China has officially asked the United States to cancel the meeting scheduled for next week between President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama. Speaking to reporters this morning, Ma Zhaoxu, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry said that his government has made a "solemn" request expressing its position in a "consistent and clear" manner.
"China firmly opposes - he added - the Dalai Lama visiting the United States and U.S. leaders' contacting with him ... We urge the U.S. side to fully understand the high sensitivity of Tibet-related issues, honour its commitment to recognizing Tibet as part of China and opposing 'Tibet independence”.
Yesterday afternoon, Robert Gibbs, spokesman for the White House confirmed that Obama will meet with the Tibetan spiritual leader on 18 February. "We think we have a mature enough relationship with China - said Gibbs - so that we can agree on issues of common interest", without agreeing on everything.
Last October Obama did not receive the Dalai Lama, a few weeks ahead of his trip to Asia, which included a stop in China. In a meeting with President Hu Jintao, he said that the U.S. recognize Tibet as part of China, but urged Beijing to resume talks with the Buddhist leader.
The apparent change of policy is linked to a number of China-US tensions have emerged in recent months: the controversy over censorship of Google, the weapons sold to Taiwan, the depreciation of the Yuan, the differences in approach to North Korean and Iranian nuclear power. Against Iran, Beijing wants to continue on the path of dialogue and diplomacy, Washington wants tougher international sanctions.