Lyon EU-PRC Summit Off: What Happened To Proportionality?

Stanley Crossick writes in his blog:

China has postponed its 1 December Lyon summit with the EU saying it was unhappy that ’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama would be visiting Europe at the same time. According to the EU, the decision was based “on the fact that the Dalai Lama will be visiting several EU countries and will meet with heads of state and government as well as presidents of European institutions,” French President NicolasSarkozy will meet the Dalai Lama in Gdansk, Poland, at a gathering of Nobel Peace Prize winners. Sarkozy has always said he’ll meet the Dalai Lama not as a head of state, but as spiritual leader. So much for the Sino-European “strategic partnership”.

It might have been thought that two major entities with such a close relationship, who agreed sometime ago to enter into a strategic partnership could have prevented this happening, as it has been a running sore for many years. I have extensively blogged on Tibet and the Dalai Lama (eg 22 July and 28 June 2008) but on 25 November wrote that the EU and Chinese officials prepare for the bilateral summit in Lyon on 1 December with a large black cloud overshadowing them, in the shape of the Dalai Lama. ”It is not beyond doubt that the Chinese will cancel the summit.”

The gulf of misunderstanding between China and the West over Tibet and the Dalai Lama is huge and misperceptions abound. No agreement is possible on the alleged rights and wrongs of both sides. The biggest single problem, whether historical or contemporary, is to separate fact from distortion , whether its source is Tibetan, Chinese or Western. How can the same man be a charismatic Nobel Prize Winner and the Devil incarnate? But anything seen as a threat to China’s territorial integrity is hypersensitive.

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