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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

China Warns Over Lama Meeting

BEIJING -- Beijing warned Tuesday that foreign leaders who meet Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, would see trade and business ties with China suffer.

But Australian Prime Minister John Howard was defiant and said he would meet the exiled Tibetan leader and 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner in Australia next week if schedules permit.

"About the leaders of some countries meeting the Dalai Lama, this is interference in China's internal affairs," Foreign Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang told a regular news briefing.

"[This] will influence relations between the two countries and unavoidably have an unfavorable influence on economic and trade relations between the two countries," Shen said when asked about a possible meeting between the Dalai Lama and the Australian prime minister.

"Countries, including Australia and New Zealand, should be clear-minded about the Dalai Lama who deceives international opinion and the leaders of some countries," Shen said.

The Dalai Lama, in Australia for a two-week visit, urged Canberra on Monday to press China to open talks on regional autonomy for the vast but sparsely populated area of Tibet.

China routinely opposes all overseas tours by the Dalai Lama, who has been in exile since an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet in 1959, and who won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize for his peaceful campaign for Tibetan autonomy.

Beijing charges the Dalai Lama is not a religious representative but a political activist who is trying to split China.

Howard stood firm on the right to meet Tibet's exiled spiritual leader.

"I have explained to the Chinese authorities that naturally the Australian prime minister decides according to Australian interests who the Australian prime minister sees," Howard said during a visit to Jakarta.

"I understand the sensitivities of the Chinese government and I also understand the Dalai is a religious leader who has been to Australia before," Howard said. "We have a proper reputation as a country of religious and political tolerance and in that context the meeting between us, if it can be arranged, will take place."

Australian government sources in Canberra said a meeting between Howard and the Tibetan god-king was likely.

China maintains it has ruled Tibet for centuries. But many Tibetans dispute this, and the region has been rocked by periodic outbursts of separatist violence.

?China on Tuesday made a low-key response to a meeting between a senior U.S. official and the president of rival Taiwan.

U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers met President Lee Teng-hui on Tuesday in the most senior U.S.-Taiwan contact in nearly two years.

Beijing had earlier signalled it would be displeased by Summer's visit, but Shen took a relatively mild approach, saying Washington had promised to stick to its "One China" principles.

"The U.S. side has said it will abide by the promises it has made ... and that it would handle the Taiwan problem on the basis of the 'One China' stance," Shen said.

The Lee-Summers talks came more than a year after Taiwan's president visited the United States in a trip that chilled Sino-U.S. ties. Washington recognizes Beijing but maintains unofficial relations with Taipei.