Beijing: A top Chinese leader has cancelled his visit to London as protest over British leaders' recent meeting with Dalai Lama even as China on Saturday "strongly objected" to Austria over its Chancellor Werner Faymann's meeting the Tibetan spiritual leader.

Chairman of the Chinese National People's Congress, Wu Bangguo has cancelled his visit to London.

Wu, who is ranked number two in the Chinese Communist Party structure is currently touring Europe.

A British Embassy spokesman in Beijing has confirmed to the BBC about the cancellation of Wu's visit.

There was a proposed visit by Wu Bangguo which has not happened, the spokesman said.

"We very much regret that chairman Wu was not able to travel to the UK. His visit would have been a good opportunity to continue deepening UK-China relations. We would welcome future visitors from the National People's Congress to strengthen the UK-China dialogue," he said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg had met Dalai Lama in London on May 15.

A recent commentary by state-run Xinhua news agency said Cameron's decision to meet Dalai Lama "tore open an old wound that has healed to a large degree in the past few years as the two countries have been working hard to shelve political differences and build a constructive partnership in the face\ of the global financial crisis".

Meanwhile the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei issued a stern statement here today asserting that Faymann's meeting with Dalai Lama along with other members of his government constituted "severe interference with China's internal affairs".

The meeting, regardless of China's repeated representations, was a severe interference with China's internal affairs, hurt the feelings of Chinese people and sent false signals to the "Tibet independence" forces, he was quoted on Saturday.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry in Beijing and its Embassy in Austria will both lodge solemn representations to the Austrian side, he said.

The issue regarding Tibet is of exclusive concern to China's internal affairs and the Dalai Lama is but only "a political exile who has long been engaged in anti-China secessionist activities in the name of religion," Hong said.

The China objects firmly to any foreign leaders who are meeting with the Dalai Lama in any form and oppose any country, or anyone, interfering in China's internal affairs by using the Dalai Lama, he said.

Hong urged the Austrian side to take seriously China's solemn stance, stop indulging and supporting anti-China "Tibet independence" forces and take immediate and effective measures to minimize the baneful impact, so as to safeguard the overall development of bilateral ties.

(Agencies)

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