By David Brunnstrom
WASHINGTON, June 15 – U.S. President Barack Obama will meet the Dalai Lama at the White House on Wednesday, a move certain to anger China which considers the exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader a dangerous separatist.
Obama and the Dalai Lama will meet privately at 10:15 a.m. (1415 GMT), a White House statement said.
Earlier on Tuesday, China warned the United States to stick by its promises not to support any separatist activities.
In an interview with Reuters on Monday, the Dalai Lama had said it was possible he would meet Obama and on Tuesday Taiwan announced that its new president would make a transit stop in the United States next week.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said both issues touched on the “one China” policy, a basic diplomatic tenet referring to both Taiwan and Tibet being part of China that Beijing insists foreign governments recognize.
Lu said the United States had said it opposed Taiwan’s independence and recognized that Tibet was an inseparable part of China.
“We demand the U.S. government earnestly stands by its promises, conscientiously handle the relevant issue in accordance with the one China principle and not give any space to any individual or behavior which tries to create two Chinas, one China one Taiwan, or to split China,” he said.
Obama met the Dalai Lama when the latter visited Washington in 2014 and angered China then when he vowed “strong support” for Tibetans’ human rights.
The Dalai Lama says he wants genuine autonomy for Tibet rather than independence.
He told Reuters Obama was a “a long-time friend” whom he admired for his work to normalize relations with Cuba, on Iran and for his recent visits to former U.S. foe Vietnam and the site of the Hiroshima atomic bombing in Japan.
Asked how Beijing (Peking) might respond to a meeting, the Dalai Lama said: “I don’t know – you should ask them. I think in Peking, we cannot as of now … generalize. In Peking there are different views. Some people there have a more realistic view. Some are more hardline, which is more narrow-minded.”
Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen will transit in Miami on her way to Panama, one of the island’s few diplomatic allies, and stop over in Los Angeles on her return, Taiwan’s deputy foreign minister, Javier Ching-shan Hou, said.
China is suspicious of Tsai, who assumed office last month, as she is also head of the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.
Travel abroad is sensitive for Taiwanese leaders who have angered China as it is seen as exerting sovereignty. Tsai’s trip will run from June 24 to July 2 and include Paraguay.