BEIJING, July 28 - China expressed "serious concern" Monday about a meeting between U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain and the Dalai Lama.
China opposes the Dalai Lama going to any country to attempt to "split" China, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said in a notice posted on the ministry's Web site.
The notice was in response to a 45-minute meeting Friday between Tibet's exiled spiritual leader and McCain in Colorado. McCain called on China to release Tibetan prisoners and account for any people who "disappeared" during the recent uprising against Chinese rule.
The Dalai Lama praised McCain for his concern, but emphasized he wasn't endorsing McCain's presidential bid. The Dalai Lama was in Aspen for a symposium on Tibet at The Aspen Institute.
Liu repeated China's stance that Tibet is an internal affair. China opposes anyone using the Dalai Lama to interfere in the internal affairs of the country, he said.
"We urge relevant Americans to conform to the basic standard of international relations and realize the fact that the Dalai is trying to split China and undermine the social order of Tibet and the ethnic unity under the cover of religion," Liu said.
Americans should stop interfering in China's internal affairs and damaging China-U.S. relations, he said.
In the meeting, McCain said the Beijing Olympic Games starting on Aug. 8 provide a good opportunity for China to demonstrate that it recognizes human rights. He also said the Dalai Lama is merely seeking basic rights to preserve Tibetan culture, language and religion.
"That's why I'm so disappointed by repeated statements by Chinese officials that ascribe to the Dalai Lama views and actions divorced from what he actually represents. Such rhetoric doesn't serve a cause of peaceful change and reconciliation," McCain said.
China has governed Tibet since communist troops marched into the Himalayan region in the 1950s. The Dalai Lama, who fled to India amid a failed uprising in 1959, has denied seeking independence, saying he wants some form of autonomy that would allow Tibetans to freely practice their culture.