The Chinese government strongly protested the reports that the Pope would meet with the Dalai Lama. Beijing has lodged formal complaints in the past when other world leaders have met with the Tibetan exile-- who is regarded as a symbol of his country's desire for independence from Chinese rule.
The Hong Kong-based South China Post has theorized that the Vatican decision to abort plans for a papal audience with the Dalai Lama may have been related to the installation of Archbishop Joseph Gan Junqiu in the Guangzhou archdiocese.
The new archbishop had the approval of the Vatican, but his installation had been postponed for months, apparently because of opposition from the Catholic Patriotic Association. In November Msgr. Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's equivalent of a deputy foreign minister, led a delegation from the Holy See in talks with Beijing officials. Those negotiations apparently removed the block to the installation of Archbishop Gan.
During his stay in Milan the Dalai Lama will lead an inter-religious prayer service, deliver a lecture, and meet with Mayor Letizia Moratti, who had braved Chinese objections to schedule a formal meeting with the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.