Tue, Dec 09, 2008 - Page 1 News List

Chinese media warn of repercussions from Sarkozy meeting with Dalai Lama

AP , BEIJING

China piled criticism yesterday on French President Nicolas Sarkozy for meeting with the Dalai Lama, with a newspaper calling him “arrogant” a day after Beijing summoned the French ambassador to protest the meeting.

Sarkozy met the Dalai Lama on Saturday privately in Gdansk, Poland, during celebrations marking the 25th anniversary of former Polish president Lech Walesa's Nobel Peace Prize. The Dalai Lama has also received the prize. Sarkozy earlier played down the furor, saying: “There's no need to dramatize things.”

China demanded Sarkozy cancel the meeting several times and called off a major China-EU summit earlier this month in protest.

“For whatever the consequences of his stunt will be, the arrogant French president has only himself to blame. He asked for it,” the editorial in the China Daily newspaper said.

It added the meeting “calls into question all his previous efforts to repair ties and his personal credibility as well.”

It said the government may still need to buy Airbus planes, but Chinese travelers may decide to avoid Paris.

“Nor can it make consumers buy from brand names they feel bad about, be it Louis Vuitton or Carrefour,” it said.

On Sunday, Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister He Yafei (何亞非) summoned the French ambassador to China to say the meeting was “a rude intervention in Chinese internal affairs and has hurt the feelings of Chinese people gravely.”

In Paris, French Junior Minister for Human Rights Rama Yade said on Sunday that it wasn't worth turning the tensions into a “psychodrama.”

“I don't see what there is to debate about,” she said on France's RTL radio, noting that other world leaders have also met the Dalai Lama.

The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner has met in recent months with US President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

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