China has warned the United States not to hold official meetings with the Dalai Lama, who is in Washington as part of an 11-day meditation ritual.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said on Thursday that China is against any foreign governments encouraging activities aimed at "splitting the motherland." China accuses the Dalai Lama of advocating Tibet's secession from China.
The Tibetan spiritual leader said at his 76th birthday celebration on Wednesday that he was proud to put into practice his belief in the separation of religion and politics. In March, he stepped down as the political leader of the India-based Tibetan government-in-exile.
The U.S. State Department says it met with the Dalai Lama on Tuesday to discuss U.S. support for Tibet. The Dalai Lama is also scheduled during this visit to hold high-level meetings with U.S. politicians.
No formal meeting has yet been scheduled with President Barack Obama. Their low-key meeting at the White House last year angered China, but analysts say Obama is likely at least to hold a quiet ceremonial meeting with the Tibetan spiritual leader on this trip.
The Dalai Lama arrived in the U.S. capital Tuesday for the kalachakra ritual, the first time it has been held in Washington. The days of meditation and teachings aim to inspire inner peace as a means of reducing conflict around the world.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.