In front of Chinese President Hu Jintao (胡錦濤), French President Jacques Chirac recently criticized Taiwan, saying it was committing a grave error by planning a referendum because a referendum could threaten regional stability. Of course this was said and done purely to satisfy China.
\nChirac's attitude comes as a shock. He not only supported China in its violation of the spirit of the French Revolution but also blatantly interfered in another nation's domestic politics.
\nFrance is a republic with a 200-year history of practicing referendums. Chirac's opposition to another nation's referendum puts his own country to shame.
\nThe real explanation for Chirac's attitude is that he wants to sell weapons to China to boost France's economy. After kissing China's butt, Chirac immediately demanded that the EU lift its arms embargo against China. His demand was rejected and, furthermore, he was rebuked by Graham Watson, head of the Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament, who said this proposal would benefit a communist dictatorship renowned for violating human rights.
\nEU foreign ministers believe Beijing has a bad human rights record and is adopting a belligerent stance toward Taiwan. If this was not a slap in Chirac's face for his opposition to the referendum, at the very least it embarrassed him.
\nBut this is not the only defeat for Chirac. The US Department of State also voiced its opposition to the idea of France and the EU lifting the weapons embargo against China.
\nChirac lost face in his harsh opposition to the US-led war in Iraq, and now he is further berated by Washington. Nevertheless attempting to curry favor with Beijing, he has put himself in this embarrassing situation.
\nIn selling out Taiwan to cozy up to China, Chirac was not supported by the French parliament. When Hu went to Paris' City Hall to deliver a speech, demonstrators gathered outside the venue, and 327 of the total 577 councilors refused to attend the meeting. Some even stood protesting with pieces of white tape over their mouths. This made things ugly for Hu and Chirac.
\nFrench media also took aim at Chirac. Major print media, including Le Monde, Liberation and Le Figaro, ran front-page stories criticizing Chirac's leaning toward China and introduced Taiwan and its referendum in great detail.
\nThe French TV channel TF1, which enjoys the highest ratings in the country, reported in its evening news broadcast about Taiwan's past and present -- from female factory workers to Taiwan's rapid economic growth to President Chen Shui-bian (
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