China lodged formal protests with the U.S. government over President Barack Obama’s private meeting with the Dalai Lama, accusing Washington of “grossly” interfering in China’s internal affairs and damaging bilateral relations.

The protests were expected as China always objects to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader meeting foreign leaders. But they nonetheless threaten to sour the atmosphere for planned visits to China by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton next week and Vice President Joe Biden next month.

China’s Foreign Ministry said Sunday that Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai summoned Robert S. Wang, the charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, to register an official complaint over the 44-minute meeting in the White House on Saturday.

"The Chinese side pointed out that regardless of China’s firm opposition and solemn representations, the U.S. side insisted on arranging for President Obama to meet the Dalai Lama at the White House," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website. "This seriously interfered in China’s internal affairs, hurt the feelings of the Chinese people, damaged China’s core interests, and damaged China-U.S. relations. The Chinese side expressed its strong indignation and firm opposition."

Read more…