Spain says China has called in the Spanish ambassador to protest court arrest orders for several former Chinese leaders, including retired President Jiang Zemin, in an investigation into alleged genocide in Tibet.

A foreign ministry spokeswoman said Friday that China expressed concern in the meeting Thursday that the issue could damage relations between the two nations. She said a senior ministry diplomat also met with a Chinese official in Madrid to stress that Spain cannot interfere in the country's justice system.

She spoke on condition of anonymity because ministry regulations prevent her from being named.

Acting on the principal of universal justice, Spain's National Court issued the orders Tuesday in a probe brought by Spanish pro-Tibetan groups. The orders mean the Chinese leaders face possible arrest if they travel abroad.