BEIJING (AFP) — Former German chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said his successor Angela Merkel committed a mistake in meeting Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, China's state media said Friday.
"My predecessors and I refused to meet with the Dalai Lama... and I hope the incumbent government will adhere to it, too," Schroeder told a seminar in China, according to the China Daily newspaper.
"Some recent situations have hurt Chinese people's feelings, and I regret it," the paper quoted him as saying. "I am not happy with some of our government's recent moves."
China, apparently angered, has pulled out of several gatherings involving Germany since Merkel met the Dalai Lama on September 23.
Last month a planned meeting in Berlin of world powers on the Iranian nuclear crisis had to be cancelled after Beijing refused to take part.
It has also axed an annual event scheduled for December in the Chinese capital to discuss human rights and pulled out of a Sino-German symposium in Munich scheduled for late September, citing "technical reasons."
The Dalai Lama's Berlin trip was just one of several recent audiences with world leaders that have enraged China.
US President George W. Bush met him last month in Washington, where the US Congress also bestowed on him the Congressional Gold Medal -- the highest civilian award it can give.
China, which has ruled Tibet since sending in troops in 1950, accuses the Dalai Lama of fuelling a strident separatist movement in the region.
But human rights groups accuse the country of maintaining a repressive rule over the Himalayan region, and say monks or other people who express support for the Dalai Lama there are routinely beaten or jailed.
The Dalai Lama, who fled his homeland in 1959 following a failed uprising, insists he wants autonomy for Tibet rather than independence.
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