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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

China threatens trade sanctions over Dalai Lama's European trip

December 7, 2008

China has warned France that long-term relations between the two countries may be harmed if Nicholas Sarkozy goes ahead with his plan to meet the Dalai Lama.
By Malcolm Moore in Shanghai
05 Dec 2008
Last Monday, Beijing postponed a key summit with the European Union in protest at Mr Sarkozy's intentions. A spokesman for the Chinese Foreign ministry said it was particularly angry because it held France "to a higher standard" than other countries.
The Foreign ministry has now made clear that a meeting today would have "an impact on the long-term development of ties." Mr Sarkozy and the 73-year-old spiritual leader are scheduled to meet in Gdansk, at the 25th anniversary of Lech Walesa's Nobel prize.
Liu Jianchao, at the Foreign ministry, said trade links with France "rested on the basis of mutual benefit". He added that he hoped France would not do anything to "harm the interests of people from the two countries." Mr Sarkozy has cancelled two previous meetings because of opposition from China.
Tens of thousands of Chinese nationalists have already called for boycotts on French goods and on the French supermarket Carrefour in protest at what they see as outside interference in China's affairs.
"I am using my real name to swear to the French: I am going to boycott French goods for my whole life. I will never use French brands or any product made in France," said one poster to a blog, who named himself as Yan Zhongjie.
Meanwhile, two fresh editorials on Xinhua, the state news agency, attempted to whip up more antipathy for the man China insists is a "splittist monk".
Liu Hongji, of the China Tibetology Research Centre, accused the Dalai Lama of trying to "restore theocracy" in Tibet. The second piece said there was "no future" for the Dalai Lama's proposed "middle way", which outlines autonomy for Tibet without full independence.
Talks between China and Tibet broke down again last month, as Beijing insisted that the middle way was impossible and that it would accept nothing but total control over Tibet. China is widely thought to be waiting for the Dalai Lama, a unifying figure for Tibetans and the strongest voice advocating moderation, to pass away before deciding on a policy.
In order to avoid leaving a power vacuum behind him, the Dalai Lama is also thought to be actively considering whether to appoint a successor while he is still alive, in contradiction of Buddhist teachings.
Yesterday, he said China lacks the "moral authority" to play a key role on the world stage and assume the mantle of "superpower".
"Because of its very poor record on human rights and religious freedom and freedom of expression and freedom of the press – too much censorship – the image of China in the field of moral authority is very, very poor," he said.
"The sensible Chinese realise China should now pay more attention in this field in order to get more respect from the rest of the world," he added.
He repeated that he is only seeking "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet so that Tibetans can maintain their religion and culture. "We are not 'splittists', but the Chinese government still accuses us of being 'splittists'," he said.
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