China criticized British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday for meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, saying it amounts to support for Tibet's independence from Chinese rule.

The British government ignored Beijing's objections in going ahead with Monday's meeting in London, and doing so "hurts the feelings of the Chinese people," meddles in China's affairs and harms Chinese-British relations, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said. He said Britain now needs to take actions to repair the damage.

"We are strongly discontented and firmly opposed to it," Hong told reporters at a daily briefing. "We call on the British side to earnestly respond to China's solemn demand, stop conniving at and supporting separatist attempts to achieve Tibetan independence, take practical measures to eliminate the terrible impact and take actions to preserve Chinese-British relations."

Hong said his ministry lodged a protest with the British Embassy in Beijing and the Chinese Embassy in London delivered the same message to the British government.

Beijing has campaigned for decades to counteract the international influence of the Dalai Lama, whose world travels draw attention to the Communist government's often-harsh 60-year rule over Tibet.

Beijing has fiercely lobbied foreign leaders to shun the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and threatened the loss of Chinese business to get its way.