French Leader’s Planned Meeting with Dalai Lama Sparks Backlash in China

French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s meeting with the Dalai Lama has met fierce criticism in the Chinese blogosphere. Xinhua reports:

“The Tibet issue touches on China’s core interests. Anyone crossing that line will have to pay for it, and that is not something people from China and France would like to see,” a Chinese netizen who identified himself as Qiu Jianming said in a forum on news.cn, a major news site.

Added another: “It is not the first time that France has used the Tibet issue to interfere with China’s internal affairs. The disruption of the Olympic torch relay in Paris this April alone was unpleasant enough. We will not compromise one bit when it comes to China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

[…]The online backlash is the latest in a string of rows targeting France.

The disruption of the Olympic torch relay in Paris this April sparked a boycott of French products and enterprises including the Carrefour retail chain, which denied claims that it supported the Dalai Lama.

Reuters also reports on the reaction from the Chinese government:

On Saturday, China condemned the meeting. “This development is indeed an unwise move which not only hurts the feelings of the Chinese people, but also undermines Sino-French ties,” its official Xinhua news agency said in a commentary.

“The French side … took an opportunistic, rash and short-sighted approach to handling the Tibet issue.”

Sarkozy said the Dalai Lama, who welcomed him by draping a ‘kata’ or traditional Tibetan white scarf on his shoulder, had said at the meeting that he does not seek independence for Tibet. “I told him how much importance I attach to the pursuit of dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese authorities.”

President Sarkozy has also made comments on the meeting with the Dalai Lama. From The Express, translated by CDT:

Asked about the crisis between France and China, spurred by China’s protest to the meeting by cancelling a planned summit for the beginning of the week in Lyon with the EU, Nicolas Sarkozy responded: “This should be managed with grace, with calmness. We must do this in the long term, taking these events and relating these events to the importance that is owed.

“The Chinese authorities have already known perfectly well that this meeting was going to take place before the end of the year. I always said it,” he added.

“In addition, I hope that China can take its place in global governance. We need China to resolve big problems in the world, and to dialogue — as the President Hu Jintao has begun to do — with the Dalai Lama,” he also said.

“The Dalai Lama confirmed to me — as I already knew — that he wasn’t asking for independence for Tibet, and I told him just how much importance I attach to the pursuit of dialogue between the Dalai Lama and Chinese authorities,” he continued.

December 6, 2008 10:07 PM
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