German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Dalai Lama meet 23 September in the chancellery in Berlin. China has said that a meeting between Merkel and the Dalai Lama had damaged ties between the two nations, and called for Berlin to quickly fix the problem.
BEIJING — China on Tuesday said that a meeting between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Dalai Lama had damaged ties between the two nations, and called for Berlin to quickly fix the problem.
"This not only grossly interferes with the internal affairs of China, it hurts the feelings of the Chinese people and seriously undermines China-Germany relations," foreign ministry spokesman Jiang Yu said when asked about Sunday's meeting.
"We request that Germany... take concrete and effective measures to eliminate the negative impact made by this mistaken move so as not to bring any unnecessary damage to China-Germany relations."
Defying harsh warnings from China, Merkel held a historic meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader in Berlin on Sunday, during which she gave support to the Dalai Lama's quest for greater cultural autonomy for his homeland.
In an apparent response, China cancelled two top-level bilateral meetings, one a standing breakfast between the countries' foreign ministers on the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly in New York.
However Jiang said that Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi would now meet his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in New York, during which he would repeat China's stance.
"Foreign Minister Yang is going to explain once again China's solemn position on the Dalai Lama issue," Jiang said while reiterating Beijing's "strong dissatisfaction" over the meeting.
China has ruled Tibet since sending troops in to "liberate" the Himalayan region in 1950. The Dalai Lama fled his homeland following a failed uprising in 1959.
Beijing considers the Dalai Lama a political exile bent on establishing an independent Tibet, an accusation the 1989 Nobel Peace price winner has repeatedly denied.
He instead says he only wants greater autonomy and respect for Tibetan culture and religion.
In Berlin, German government spokesman Thomas Steg insisted on Monday that Germany valued its diplomatic and economic ties with China, and said he believed there would be no serious fall-out from the meeting.
"The government has a great interest in preserving and deepening its good relations with China," he told a press briefing.
Frank Umbach, the head of the research unit on China at the German Council on Foreign Relations, told AFP that Beijing's indignant response could prove to be a storm in a teacup.
"It is very important for China to save face, and the reaction is hardly surprising if you take into account China's track record in such cases. We saw the same in the 1990s towards France when it sold weaponry to Taiwan."
"But I do not think we will see lasting damage."
China directed similar criticism at Australia after Prime Minister John Howard met the Dalai Lama informally in June.
However Chinese President Hu Jintao continued with his planned visit to Australia this month, during which lucrative trade deals were signed.