EU Chief Regrets China’s Decision to Cancel Summit

The president of the European Commision has said he “regrets” China’s decision to pull out of the summit with EU leaders after French President Sarkozy announced a visit with the Dalai Lama. From AP:

Jose Manuel Barroso says the Chinese are “ultra-sensitive” about the Dalai Lama but that summits offer the right forum to discuss such matters.

China said Thursday that Sarkozy’s planned meeting with the Tibetan religious leader in Poland left it no choice but to pull out of this week’s summit in France.

Barroso stressed in an interview Sunday on France’s LCI TV station that he doesn’t want such differences to “contaminate the entire relationship” with China, but that it is “totally natural” for European politicians to meet with the Dalai Lama.

Meanwhile, the official media in China has quoted scholars saying the Sarkozy-Dalai Lama meeting threatens trade, AP reports:

Statements by Feng Zongping, appearing Saturday in the official China Daily newspaper, mark the latest display of China’s determination to intimidate Sarkozy and scare other foreign heads of state away from holding meetings with Tibet’s exiled Buddhist leader.

Trade retaliation is one of the most potent weapons in China’s arsenal, and China’s decision to pull out of a summit with the European Union that was to have begun Monday in France has already prompted hand-wringing among French business leaders. More than 150 Chinese business executives had been expected to meet with European counterparts at an event on the summit’s sidelines organized by the French employers’ lobby Medef.

France has “underestimated China’s resolution to protect its sovereignty,” said Feng, who is the European studies director at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations. Feng’s institute is associated closely with the Foreign Ministry.


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