The Chinese government reacted strongly to the White House's announcement Thursday that President Obama will host the Dalai Lama later this month.
"We urge the U.S. side to fully understand the high sensitivity of Tibet-related issues, honor its commitment to recognizing Tibet as part of China and opposing 'Tibet independence,'" said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu.
Ma urged the Obama administration to cancel the meeting "so as not to cause further damage to Sino-U.S. relations.
The White House announced Thursday that the Dalai Lama will visit the President at the White House on February 18.
A previously scheduled visit between the president and the Tibetan spiritual leader set for October 2009, before the president's trip to China, was canceled, reportedly out of deference to the Chinese government. The Dalai Lama's trip to Washington, DC, last Fall was his first visit since 1991 when he did not meet with the president.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the rescheduled visit would take place in the Map Room.
When a reporter asked why the meeting would be there and not, say, in the Oval Office, Gibbs said, "no president has ever met with the Dalai Lama in the Oval Office."