China has condemned Barack Obama for "gross interference" in its affairs after the US President met the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, at the White House for the second time in his presidency.
The unusually strong reaction from Beijing threatened to cool relations, just as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton flies to the Far East to discuss regional security, and as the US struggles to deal with debt substantially funded by China.
Mr Obama's 44-minute meeting with the Dalai Lama included discussion of human rights in Tibet. The Dalai Lama was in Washington for an 11-day Buddhist festival. The Communist regime in Beijing had already been angered by his meetings with other senior US political figures.
"Such an act has grossly interfered in China's internal affairs, hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and damaged Sino-American relations," the Chinese foreign ministry said.