Beijing: Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, said on Wednesday that he had "no worries" about US President-elect Donald Trump, and looked forward to meeting him — a prospect which would anger Beijing.
The Nobel laureate called the US "a leading nation of the free world" at a press conference during a visit to Mongolia, where he met with Buddhist worshippers despite strident demands from Beijing that he be barred from entering the country.
"Sometimes I feel during election, the candidate has more freedom to express," he said in English in response to a question about the US elections. "Once they (are) elected, having the responsibility, then they have to planning their sort of vision, their works according (to) reality," he added. "So I have no worries."
He said he had plans to visit the US next year and looked forward to meeting Trump — then giggled.
Beijing views the exiled Buddhist monk as a devious separatist who's bent on breaking apart China and consistently condemns foreign leaders who meet with him.
Outgoing US President Barack Obama hosted the Dalai Lama at the White House for the fourth time in June, prompting sharp criticism from Beijing.
Mongolia is home to devout Buddhists, whose religion is closely related to the Tibetan tradition, but the country is heavily dependent on trade with China, and Ulan Bator has tried to avoid angering its giant neighbour. The Mongolian monastery that organised his trip said the visit was purely religious and separate from political affairs.
China hoped that the international community would "see through the anti-China and separatist nature of the Dalai Lama", foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang told reporters Wednesday.
"Instead of being in a temple to focus on practising Buddhism, he travels around the world to meet with other foreign leaders in order to try to undermine relations between China and those countries," he said.
The Dalai Lama says he seeks more autonomy for Tibet rather than outright independence. His last visit to sparsely-populated Mongolia came in 2011, in the midst of a wave of self-immolations by Tibetans in China angry about what they saw as religious repression and growing domination by the country's majority Han ethnic group.