Source AP ©

China deeply concerned about Merkel's meeting with Dalai Lama

China on Tuesday blasted a meeting between exiled Tibetan leader the Dalai Lama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, calling it an affront that dealt a blow to Sino-German ties.

Merkel met the Dalai Lama - whom China views as a beacon for pro-independence sentiment in Tibet - on Sunday despite Chinese expressions of displeasure.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said the meeting "not only grossly interfered with the internal affairs of China, it seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and undermined China-Germany relations."

"China expresses its strong dissatisfaction," she said at a regularly scheduled news conference.

China routinely criticizes visits abroad by the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet for India in 1959 during a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, he remains popular among Tibetans and is widely respected abroad, despite efforts to undermine him by Chinese authorities.

China claims Tibet has been its territory for centuries, but many Tibetans say they were effectively independent for most of that period.