Sarkozy ‘Regrets’ Tensions over Dalai Lama Meeting

The official Chinese media is blasting President Nicolas Sarkozy following his meeting with the Dalai Lama. From BBC:

One newspaper said he had shown the “wild ambition of a king of the world”. Another accused him of his duplicity.

French websites have been hacked and material hostile to France and its president has appeared prominently on Chinese internet forums, reports say.

The Straits Times also reports:

Several state-run newspapers accused France – and particularly Mr Sarkozy – of having deeply hurt China by defying repeated warnings not to hold talks with Tibet’s spiritual leader.

‘The French president knowingly offended the people he now says he wants to befriend, without showing repentance,’ the English-language China Daily said in an editorial.

The piece was published after France’s ambassador to China held a press conference for domestic media on Thursday in a bid to ease tensions between the two nations, but the China Daily described the attempt as ‘a failure’.

Claiming another country has “hurt the feelings of the Chinese people” is a common defense used by the Chinese government in diplomatic disputes. Danwei quotes a Chinese blogger who tracked just how many times various countries were accused of this over the past 60 years.

Sarkozy has said he “regrets” the uproar over his meeting. From AP:

“I regret this friction,” Sarkozy said at an EU summit in Brussels. “It is in Europe’s interest to have good relations with China and it is in China’s interest to have good relations with Europe.”

Sarkozy met with the Tibetan leader last weekend in Poland, prompting a high-level diplomatic protest from China. Chinese officials were particularly upset that Sarkozy held the meeting while France holds the rotating presidency of the EU, and was therefore seen as representing the entire 27-nation bloc.

“We will find the means to talk again, but not at the price of denying our own European values,” Sarkozy said.

Meanwhile, U.N. General Secretary Ban Ki-moon has said he hopes Beijing and Tibet will continue their dialogue. From AFP:

China said last month that talks on the future of Tibet had failed to make progress and insisted it would not compromise on the status of the Himalayan region.

“Our contacts and talks failed to make progress and they (the Dalai Lama’s representatives) should assume full responsibility for it,” said Zhu Weiqun, executive vice minister of the Communist Party’s United Work Front Department.

But Ban said he hoped the dialogue would continue “in a sincere manner, so all the concerns concerning Tibet will be resolved smoothly and harmoniously.”

Yet a signed editorial in Xinhua indicates that the Chinese government has not intention of toning down the anti-Dalai Lama rhetoric:

The article said anyone who knows the Dalai clique would be able to tell that it is an autocratic theocracy that is any thing but democracy.

The article said, the Dalai clique had tried to lay a legal basis for its rule. Although it borrowed such concepts as “separation of executive, legislative and judicial powers” from the West, it is still a theocratic system with the Dalai Lama acting as both the head of the government and the religious leader– a system continued down from the old Tibet.

The article cited a 1963 document and a 1991 charter introduced by the Tibetan separatists as examples.

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