President Bush welcomes the Dalai Lama to the White House next Tuesday before a ceremony on Capitol Hill to honor the spiritual leader's work. VOA White House Correspondent Scott Stearns reports China says it opposes any country using the Dalai Lama to interfere in its internal affairs.
White House Spokeswoman Dana Perino says the Dalai Lama's visit should come as no surprise to China since President Bush discussed the issue with Chinese President Hu Jintao at this year's Asian Pacific Economic summit in Australia.
"We would hope that the Chinese leader would get to know the Dalai Lama as the president sees him, as a spiritual leader and someone who wants peace," she said. "And that is what the president urges in meetings. He understands that the Chinese have concerns about this. They were expressed to the president as well in Australia. He is well aware that there are different feelings about this."
The Dalai Lama has been living in India since fleeing Tibet in 1959 during a failed revolt against Chinese rule. China says Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry says it opposes any country or person using the Dalai Lama to interfere in China's internal affairs. It objects to American legislators awarding him the Congressional Gold Medal, whose past recipients have included Pope John Paul II, Nelson Mandela, and Mother Teresa.
Congress says it is recognizing the Dalai Lama's fight for democracy, freedom, and Tibet's cultural heritage through a negotiated settlement with Beijing based on autonomy within the People's Republic.
Congress says the Nobel Peace Prize laureate will be honored for his many enduring and outstanding contribution to peace, non-violence, human rights, and religious understanding.