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China criticizes Sarkozy-Dalai Lama meeting

November 26, 2008

The Associated Press
November 25, 2008

BEIJING -- China criticized a planned meeting between French
President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled Buddhist
leader, implying on Tuesday that the Tibet issue was an "unnecessary
disturbance" in bilateral relations.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang reiterated Beijing's opposition
to any contact between the Dalai Lama, whom China accuses of
conducting separatist activities overseas, and foreign heads of state.

Sarkozy has said he would hold the meeting with the Dalai Lama on
Dec. 6 during a visit to Gdansk, Poland.

"The Tibet issue is an internal affair," Qin said in a regular news
briefing, adding that China and France should "overcome all
unnecessary disturbances and safeguard the interests of bilateral relations."

It was at least the third time this month the Foreign Ministry has
criticized the planned meeting.

China insists Tibet has been part of its territory for 700 years,
although many Tibetans say they were effectively independent for most
of that time. Chinese forces invaded shortly after the 1949 Communist
revolution and the Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 amid an
unsuccessful uprising against Chinese rule.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking Tibet's separation from
China, despite his repeated public denials and two-decade-old
advocacy of a "middle path" that would achieve meaningful autonomy
and protections for the Himalayan region's unique Buddhist culture,
while leaving it a part of China.

The meeting between Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama will take place days
after the Dec. 1 EU-China summit in Lyons, France, which Sarkozy will
attend as holder of the European Union's rotating presidency. Chinese
Premier Wen Jiabao is scheduled to attend the summit.
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