BEIJING (Reuters) - China expressed dissatisfaction on Friday after exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama met Indian President Pranab Mukherjee, saying it hoped India would recognise the Nobel Peace Prize winning monk as a separatist in religious guise.
Mukherjee hosted the Dalai Lama and other Nobel Peace laureates at a conference on children’s rights at the presidential palace on Sunday.
Those who attended, and spoke, included Princess Charlene of Monaco and the former president of East Timor, Jose Ramos-Horta.
The Indian government had ignored China’s “strong opposition and insisted” on arranging for the Dalai Lama to share the stage with Mukherjee, and meet him, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing in the Chinese capital.
“China is strongly dissatisfied and resolutely opposed to this,” he said, adding that the Dalai Lama used the guise of religion to engage in separatist activities and China opposed any form of official contacts with him.
China wanted India to recognise the “anti-China, separatist essence of the Dalai Lama clique and take steps to banish the negative impact of this incident” to avoid disrupting ties between the Asian giants, Geng said.
While the Dalai Lama has had private meetings with Indian leaders, Sunday’s conference was the first public event, said the political head of the Tibetan government in exile based in India’s northern hill town of Dharamsala.
“There are many European governments shying away from hosting His Holiness,” he told Reuters. “Here you have the president of India hosting His Holiness. I think is a powerful message to the world, and particularly to Beijing.”
China regards the Dalai Lama as a separatist, though he says he merely seeks genuine autonomy for his Himalayan homeland Tibet, which Communist Chinese troops “peacefully liberated” in 1950.
The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
China also expressed displeasure with India this month over the visit to a sensitive border region of another senior Tibetan religious figure, the Karmapa Lama, Tibetan Buddhism’s third-most-senior monk, who fled into exile in India in 2000.
India is home to a large exiled Tibetan community.
Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Additional reporting by Sanjeev Miglani in New Delhi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez