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UPDATED: December 8, 2008
China Lodges Strong Protest to France Over Dalai Lama Meeting

China on Sunday lodged a strong protest against French President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama.

Deputy Foreign Minister He Yafei summoned French Ambassador to China Herve Ladsous on Sunday evening, lodging a strong protest, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Sarkozy persisted in meeting the Dalai Lama on Saturday as French president, who also holds the rotating EU presidency, in total disregard of Chinese people's strong opposition and repeated stern representations by the Chinese side. "This grossly interfered in China's internal affairs," He said.

"It also severely undermined China's core interest, gravely hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and sabotaged the political basis of China-France and China-EU relations.

"The Chinese government firmly opposes and strongly protests to the action," the deputy foreign minister said.

Also on Sunday, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Liu Jianchao made remarks to slash Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama.

Sarkozy held a half-hour meeting with the Dalai Lama Saturday in the Polish city of Gdansk.

The Dalai Lama has long been engaged in activities worldwide to split China. He can by no means conceal the separatist nature of his activities no matter what by whatever disguise and whatever florid rhetoric he may use.

The Chinese government and people firmly oppose Dalai's activities aimed at splitting China conducted in any country under any disguise. They also stand firmly against any foreign leader's contact with Dalai in any form.

The Tibet issue involves China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and bears on China's core interests.

The French side, however, in total disregard of China's grave concern and the general situation of Sino-French relations, took an opportunistic, rash and short-sighted approach to handling the Tibet issue.

Just as the British newspaper "Financial Times" put it, Sarkozy wanted to maintain dialogue with China on economy and trade, but meanwhile believed this should not keep him from raising the Tibet issue.

During his China visit in August this year, Sarkozy said that France has always regarded China as an important strategic partner since General Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970) became French president.

He also expressed his willingness to further enhance relations between the two nations. With Sarkozy's words still ringing clear, what the French side is doing to this effect can hardly be convincing.

With the vision and courage of a great statesman, General de Gaulle opened the door of friendly relations between the two countries 44 years ago, making France the first among Western countries to forge diplomatic ties with the People's Republic of China.

Commenting on his decision, de Gaulle said that it was based on the ever-increasing influence of facts and reason. His insightful remarks still offers much for thought even for today.

Over the past five decades and more, the development of Sino-French ties has been sound on the whole. The occasional setbacks in bilateral ties were caused by France's attempts to play the human rights card with China and its arms sales to Taiwan in infringement of China's core interests of national reunification.

Thanks to joint efforts by both sides, the past years have seen sound development of Sino-French ties, with exchanges and cooperation in all fields further growing in depth. To take history as a mirror and promote Sino-French French all-round strategic partnership to new heights has become a common aspiration of the two peoples.

In today's world, both multi-polarity and economic globalization keep developing. China shares wide-ranging common interests with the EU countries, including France, and developing and strengthening China-EU ties is in the interests of both sides and the world at large.

At present, the European Union and China should cooperate more closely to tackle global challenges, such as the ongoing global financial crisis, food and energy security and climate change.

Unfortunately, however, the unwise move by France, the rotating EU presidency, on the Tibet issue has not only undermined Sino-French ties, but has also obstructed the process of dialogue, exchange and cooperation between China and the EU.

Obviously, the cause and responsibility for the current problematic situation of relations between China and France are not on the part of China. The Chinese government has reiterated time and again that China has all along valued its ties with France and will, as always, work hard to enhance the long-term sound development of Sino-French relations.

French leaders should, on the basis of facts and reason, show far-sighted political wisdom, honor their commitment and take effective measures to further the overall development of French-China relations. Otherwise, they can only hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and undermine the foundation of cooperation between the two countries. The French side is held fully responsible in such a scenario.

(China Daily via XinhuaDecember 7, 2008)

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