Obama is scheduled to meet the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader at the White House on Friday.
China has long accused the Dalai Lama of backing violence against Beijing, but he says he is only seeking greater autonomy for Tibet, which is under Chinese control, through non-violent means. China regularly criticizes world leaders who meet with the Dalai Lama.
In a statement posted on the Chinese foreign ministry's website, spokesperson Hua Chunying blasted the Dalai Lama as a “political exile who has long been engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the cloak of religion.”
“By arranging a meeting between the President and the Dalai Lama, the US side will grossly interfere in the internal affairs of China, seriously violate norms governing international relations and severely impair China-US relation,” the statement added. “China expresses firm opposition. We urge the US to take China's concerns seriously, immediately cancel the meeting, and not to provide facilitation and platform for the Dalai Lama to carry out anti-China separatist activities in the US.”
Despite Beijing’s warnings, Obama has met the Dalai Lama, a fellow Nobel laureate, before — without serious repercussions to U.S.-Sino relations.
Obama has pushed for a “pivot to Asia” as a centerpoint of his foreign policy, but tensions in East Asia have grown amid territorial disputes between China and Japan and nuclear tests by North Korea.