The Dalai Lama at the National Prayer Breakfast
The Dalai Lama looks up toward the head table, where U.S. President Barack Obama was seated, during the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, on Feb. 5, 2015. Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

China's official news agency condemned U.S. President Barack Obama's move of hosting the Dalai Lama at a prayer meeting Thursday in Washington, where Obama called the Tibetan leader “a good friend.” Xinhua, the country's official news agency, called the event “chumming with a secessionist,” and warned against a meeting between the two leaders.

Although Obama did not meet the Tibetan leader at the annual prayer meeting, he did bow down to him, and said: “I want to offer a special welcome to a good friend,” and called him “a powerful example of what it means to practice compassion.” Xinhua reacted strongly to the Dalai Lama's presence at the event and said Friday that any possible meeting between the two might have “negative consequences.” The agency, which had warned against a meeting between the two leaders earlier in the week too, called the Dalai Lama a “political liability which backfires.”

“Chumming with a secessionist is playing with fire, which severely harms the mutual trust between China and the United States, and downgrades Obama’s credit as a national leader for breaking his commitments to China on the Tibet issue,” the Xinhua article said, adding: “The Dalai Lama is just a handy tool for Obama to scramble for short-term gains, show off his moral clarity and score easy points at home.”

Beijing has repeatedly advised countries not to host the Tibetan leader, accusing him of trying to "separate Tibet from China." However, Obama has met the Dalai Lama three times so far and a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson had called last February's meeting between the two “a gross interference in China’s domestic politics” and “a severe violation of the principles of international relations,” The Guardian reported.

The Xinhua report added that if Obama met the Dalai Lama, it would harm Sino-U.S. relations.

“If Obama meets the Dalai Lama, he will simply reverse the positive trends established by China and the U.S. in the development of their relations. For all that, any possible meeting or encounter with the Dalai Lama planned by Obama will dampen the hard-won positive momentum in China-U.S. relations,” Xinhua report said, adding: “It is highly advisable that the United States stick to its commitments and properly handle related issues with the overall interests of China-U.S. relations in mind.”