Britain has claimed that Prime Minister David Cameron's meeting with the Dalai Lama was a private one and that Cameron was free to meet anyone. But one is the British Prime Minister, the other is the "spiritual leader" of "Tibet independence." Does anyone really believe the meeting was "private?" "Private" is becoming a funny word now.
The meeting was deliberately arranged by Britain. The Cameron government clearly knows it could bring damning risks to Sino-British relations. China must take corresponding punitive actions against Britain.
China's stand against foreign leaders meeting the Dalai Lama is clear. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and former French President Nicolas Sarkozy met Dalai respectively in 2007 and 2008, which strongly shocked bilateral relations. US President Barack Obama's Dalai meeting also created a diplomatic storm. Apparently, Cameron deliberately followed in their footsteps.
The Chinese don't care whom foreign leaders meet, but as Dalai is the symbol of "Tibet independence," Cameron knows fully well what China is opposed to.
There is already a routine reaction after foreign leaders' meeting with Dalai. China will protest strongly, putting trade and political ties on hold for a certain time. China has become proficient in dealing with these issues and can handle the damage better.
China should suspend high-level communications with Britain for a certain time and also some cooperative projects that China is in no hurry to carry out. It's not difficult for China to do so. This may not have a great effect on Britain, but could add negative points to Cameron's political reputation, which will overwhelm the positive points earned by his "courage" in meeting Dalai.
Reducing economic cooperation will bring damage to both sides, but for China, it's necessary to safeguard national unification. China has become accustomed to paying the price for safeguarding its core interests. Now it should let Western countries make the choice: pay the price for meeting Dalai or avoid showing off their nobility of freedom.
The emphasis on the fact it was a private meeting appears to be a subtle form of conciliation compared with the German and French leaders' meetings with Dalai in the past. But still, the matter should not be settled by just a verbal protest from China. France has just elected a new president and many other countries are changing leadership. All eyes are on China and how it will react to Cameron's decision to host the Dalai Lama.
Hesitation is not a suitable response. China favors peace, but that does not mean China's national security is cheap. Though it is not involved in military actions like other big powers, it has to spend the money fighting provocations against its security.
Dalai should not overestimate his personal value. He is only a tool in the competition between major powers.