|June 16, 2016 -- The planned meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and the Dalai Lama sends the "wrong signal" to Tibetan separatists and will hamper Washington's relations with Beijing, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
China has lodged a diplomatic protest with the United States, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.
Obama and the Dalai Lama were scheduled to meet privately at the White House on Wednesday morning. At press time, there was no confirmation of whether the meeting had been held.
The Dalai Lama is "not only a religious figure, but a political exile who has long engaged in anti-China separatist activities under the guise of religion," Lu told a regular news briefing.
"Any attempt to take advantage of Tibet issues and undermine stability in China will not succeed," he added.
Obama had been scheduled to travel to Wisconsin to appear at a campaign event with presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party's presumptive nominee. But the event was postponed after Sunday's shooting at an Orlando, Florida, nightclub that left 50 people dead.
That created an opening in Obama's schedule that the White House filled with the meeting with the Dalai Lama, AP said.
Obama made a high-profile public appearance with the Dalai Lama last year at a prayer breakfast in Washington, calling him "a powerful example of what it means to practice compassion." Three previous meetings were held privately.
The White House barred the media from the meeting and arranged for it to be held in the Map Room instead of the Oval Office, which is reserved for visiting heads of state, AP said.
Niu Jun, a professor of international relations at Peking University, noted that the meeting was arranged on the heels of the China-U.S. Strategic and Economic Dialogue, which ended last week in Beijing and had positive effects on the two countries' relations.