BEIJING/OSLO (Reuters) - China’s Foreign Ministry expressed anger on Friday at plans by the Dalai Lama to visit Norway, a country with which China already has strained ties following the awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to prominent Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
“China resolutely opposes any country receiving the Dalai Lama. China resolutely opposes any form of official meetings with the Dalai Lama by government officials of other countries,” ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.
“We hope that the related parties will effectively respect China’s core concerns, take practical efforts and make effective actions to improve relations,” she added, in response to a question about the Dalai Lama’s Norway trip.
Geir Lundestad, the secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, told Reuters that the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader would be coming to Norway in May, but that he was coming at the invitation of local Buddhist groups, not the Nobel Committee.
Still, Lundestad said they have expressed a wish to meet with him.
“We expect to contact him, but it’s not our initiative. He comes to Norway occasionally, but next year will also be the 25th anniversary of his Nobel peace prize and we, of course, expressed an interest to meet with him, but the initiative is with the Buddhist group,” he said.
In 2010, Norway’s diplomatic relations with China were frozen after the Nobel Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu, a veteran of the 1989 pro-democracy protests in Beijing which the government brutally crushed.
China cancelled meetings with Norwegian officials and denied visas to visiting dignitaries, even though Norway’s government says it has no influence over the Nobel Committee.
China calls the Dalai Lama a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” who seeks to use violent methods to establish an independent Tibet.
The Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed uprising in 1959, maintains he only wants genuine autonomy for Tibet and denies advocating violence.
China has long defended its iron-fisted rule in Tibet, saying the region suffered from dire poverty, brutal exploitation and economic stagnation until 1950, when Communist troops “peacefully liberated” Tibet.
Tensions in China’s Tibetan regions are at their highest in years after a spate of self-immolation protests by Tibetans, which have led to an intensified security crackdown.
Reporting by Joseph Campbell and Adam Rose in BEIJING and Nerijus Adomaitis in OSLO; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Matt Driskill