• The Dalai Lama is a highly regarded spiritual leader in Mongolia, a predominantly Buddhist nation.

The Dalai Lama is a highly regarded spiritual leader in Mongolia, a predominantly Buddhist nation. (Photo : Getty Images)

A bilateral meeting between Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was cancelled on Sunday in what has been interpreted as China's protest to President Andrej Kiska's lunch with the Dalai Lama in October earlier this year.

Premier Li was among 16 delegates from Eastern and Central Europe in the Latvian capital of Riga for the 16+1 summit, but his entourage abruptly called off the meeting with Fico scheduled before the event, according to the South China Morning Post.

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In response, the prime minister said that China-Slovakia relations between Slovakia and China had been "damaged" and must be repaired before any future products between the two countries could be pursued.

The move is seen as a deliberate snub by Beijing towards the Slovak government after it welcomed the Dalai Lama during his European tour last month.

The exiled Tibetan leader's visit included a talk with members of the Tibetan community in Europe, a popular public lecture on "Secular Ethics," and a meal with the Slovak president where the two reportedly discussed topics ranging from "promoting greater understanding of other's differences to religious intersectionality," the Shanghaiist said in a report.

China was quick to express its disapproval of the meeting, accusing Kiska of undermining the relations between the two countries by supporting the 14th Dalai's separatist agenda. The Chinese government also warned that it would "react accordingly" in response to the Slovakian government's actions.

Numerous celebrities and world leaders have gone afoul with China for interaction with the Tibetan spiritual leader. A 2014 meeting between the Dalai Lama and U.S. President Barack Obama provoked outrage from Beijing, saying that Washington was "interfering with China's internal affairs."

Over the past several years, musicians including Selena Gomez, Bon Jovi, and Maroon 5 have had their concerts and tour dates in mainland China scrapped over pictures and social media posts linking them to the Dalai Lama.

More recently, Lady Gaga drew condemnation from the Chinese government after appearing in a Facebook video together with the 14th Dalai to discuss the concept of kindness.

Since being exiled from Tibet following a failed uprising in 1959, the Dalai Lama has been a cultural and religious icon whom China has accused of being a "wolf in monk's clothing."

According to Beijing, the Dalai Lama's continued advocacy for more Tibetan autonomy is a direct political threat to the Communist Party's control over the region.