By Theophilos Argitis
October 29 - China warned that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's meeting today with the Dalai Lama will have a "grave" impact on relations between the two countries.
The exiled spiritual leader of Tibet's Buddhists met Harper in the prime minister's office in Parliament and held meetings with other government officials and lawmakers during his trip to Ottawa.
"It is a blatant interference in China's internal affairs and has severely hurt the feelings of the Chinese people," Sun Lushan, an official at China's embassy in Ottawa, told reporters today. The meeting "will gravely undermine the relationship between China and Canada."
The Dalai Lama's visit, which the spiritual leader said today wasn't meant to serve any "political agenda," comes two weeks after George W. Bush sparked a row with China by becoming the first sitting U.S. president to appear with him in public.
Earlier today, a senior lawmaker from the ruling Conservative Party said Canada isn't concerned the visit by the Dalai Lama may impact relations with China.
"The Dalai Lama is an honorary citizen of Canada who is loved by the majority of Canadians," Jason Kenney, Canada's minister responsible for multicultural policy, said today at a joint press conference with the Tibetan leader. Asked whether the visit might harm relations with China, Kenney said: "No."
Tibet, under Chinese authority since the 1750's, had varying degrees of autonomy until the Chinese Communist Party arrived in 1950, prompting a failed revolt in 1959, after which the Dalai Lama fled to India. The Dalai Lama, 72, has since called for Tibetan self-rule.