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China condemns US/Dalai meeting -

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SHANE MCLEOD: The US President Barack Obama has provoked anger in China by meeting with the Tibetan
spiritual leader the Dalai Lama. The largely ceremonial encounter was low key but the very fact a
meeting took place at all was enough to upset Beijing.

China's Foreign Ministry has condemned the meeting as grossly violating international norms and
it's the latest in a series of prickly issues between the two Pacific powers, from the cyber
attacks on internet giant Google to arms sales to Taiwan.

North America correspondent Lisa Millar reports.

LISA MILLAR: As the Dalai Lama left the White House he headed straight for the media pack waiting
outside. Dressed in his robes and sandals he stopped by a pile of snow and playfully tossed a
handful at the scrum of journalists.

The meeting with the President was low key but the Dalai Lama knows full well how the Chinese will
feel.

DALAI LAMA: I think almost certain some negative, some criticism, some scold. (Laughs)

LISA MILLAR: There was no joint public appearance or photo opportunities. The meeting took place in
the White House Map Room, not the Oval Office.

Another meeting later in the afternoon with the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was also a
media-free zone.

The White House did put out a statement declaring the President's strong support for the
preservation of Tibet's unique religious, cultural and linguistic identity and commended the Dalai
Lama for his non-violent approach and pursuit of dialogue with China.

Those comments have only helped aggravate China which is already upset about the $US6 billion in
weapons sales to Taiwan and the trade war over tariffs.

The Dalai Lama though chided China for the way it reacts.

DALAI LAMA: So that's why some Chinese policy to some people looks very childish, I mean the
Chinese Communist and particularly among the hardliners, their thinking, there's something very
limited, one (inaudible).

LISA MILLAR: Victor Gao is the director of the China National Association of International Studies.

As a long time Beijing insider he's convinced China's reaction will be stern.

VICTOR GAO: So for the head of state of a major country like the United States to meet with his
holiness the Dalai Lama in his official capacity is considered by Beijing as a major affront to the
Chinese position and also undermining China's sovereignty and territorial integrity as far as Tibet
is concerned.

Secondly I think the timing is very disturbing. This is mainly because right now in the world there
are many, many major issues, including nuclear weapons proliferation in Iran, in North Korea etc
which require close cooperation between China and the United States and other major countries.

And I think this will create huge disincentive for China to treat the United States really as a
reliable and trustworthy partner in cooperating on these major issues in the world.

LISA MILLAR: Adam Segal from the Council on Foreign Relations says he doesn't think it will have
long term effects.

ADAM SEGAL: Long term very little. In the short term the Chinese are angry. They've already
cancelled some military to military contacts in part because of this arms sale to Taiwan and in
part because of the meeting with the Dalai Lama.

But long term I think the relationship will eventually start to improve.

LISA MILLAR: Previous presidents have met with the Dalai Lama so the Chinese couldn't be surprised
could they?

ADAM SEGAL: No and I think President Obama probably warned the Chinese when he was there in October
of last year that he had only postponed the meeting with the Dalai Lama, not cancelled it.

LISA MILLAR: There's already suggestions perhaps that there could be retaliation, that the
President, Chinese President Hu Jintao who is due here in April might cancel his visit. Could you
imagine that happening?

ADAM SEGAL: I could but in some ways I think that actually might be a good thing. I think the way
the relations are right now they're pretty tense. I can't see anything positive coming out of a
meeting in April.

So for him to push it back I think would be a good thing for both sides.

SHANE MCLEOD: That's Adam Segal from the Council on Foreign Relations ending that report from Lisa
Millar in Washington.