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China warns President Sarkozy over meeting with Dalai Lama

November 17, 2008

By Phurbu Thinley
Phayul
November 14, 2008

Dharamsala, November 14: China on Friday warned French president Nicolas Sarkozy that his country risks "hard-earned" gains in ties with Beijing if he meets the Dalai Lama.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said his government resolutely opposes foreign leaders engaging in any form of contact with Tibet's exiled leader the Dalai Lama, whom it calls a separatist for advocating self-determination for his homeland.

"We resolutely oppose Dalai’s engagement in separatist activities in other countries in whatever capacity as well as foreign leaders’ contact with Dalai in whatever form," the Chinese government spokesman said.

"At present, China’s relations with both France and the EU are improving and developing. This hard-earned situation should be cherished," Qin said.

He urged France to seriously pay attention to "China’s major concern" and "properly handle relevant issues" in order to have the stable development of China-France and China-EU relations.

In the statement, Qin suggests Sarkozy's proposed meeting with the exiled Tibetan leader could damage the "overall interest of bilateral relations" of the two countries.

China’s warning was issued on the Chinese Foreign Ministry website (www.fmprc.gov.cn ) a day after President Sarkozy said he would hold a long-awaited meeting with the Dalai Lama in Poland on December 6.

"The Tibetans should not be subjected to repression and, like everyone else, they have a right to freedom," Mr Sarkozy said on Thursday at the Elysee palace while announcing his decision to meet the Tibetan leader next month.

China’s warning comes a day before the two powers join a financial summit. Sarkozy and Hu will both attend a summit on the global financial crisis on Washington on Saturday, and the French leader has looked to China to back his proposals to revamp global financial rules.

The French president drew China's ire earlier in the year after Sarkozy threatened to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games unless Beijing showed progress in talks on Tibet.

But Mr Sarkozy declined a meeting with the Dalai Lama during his visit to France in August supposedly after Beijing warned that such direct contact would have serious consequences for bilateral relations.
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