Mon, Oct 15, 2007 - Page 4 News List

Beijing calls off rights meeting with Germany

SILENT TREATMENT Three meetings, including one set for December, have been called off since German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the Dalai Lama

AFP , BERLIN

China has canceled a third consecutive Germany-China meeting following a meeting between Chancellor Angela Merkel and the Dalai Lama last month, the German foreign ministry said on Saturday.

A spokesman for the ministry declined to explain the reasons behind the cancelation, which came in the past few days, and concerns an event scheduled for December in Beijing to discuss human rights.

According to the weekly German political magazine Der Spiegel, the Chinese authorities specifically canceled the annual get-together due to Merkel meeting the exiled Tibetan leader on Sept. 23.

One of the German objectives in the meeting was to push China to respect human rights and civil liberties. In the past, officials have used the high-ranking meeting to raise specific cases of arrests and ill treatment in China.

The historic Merkel-Dalai Lama meeting has provoked a diplomatic chill between the two nations. China is a key market for German exporters.

Beijing has already pulled out of a Germany-China human rights symposium scheduled last month in Munich, citing "technical reasons."

Berlin had hoped to rearrange this conference but no suitable date has yet been found, according to the spokesman.

And a meeting between the Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi (楊潔箎) and his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier to be held during a meeting of the UN General Assembly in New York was also canceled at the last minute.

Spiegel quoted diplomats in Beijing as saying that Germany has attempted to calm down the row but that the Chinese government was "particularly outraged that Merkel did not mention her planned meeting [with the Dalai Lama] during her visit to China in August."

The same sources were quoted as saying the Dalai Lama meeting will have "lasting consequences."

China, which claims to have liberated Tibet from feudal oppression with its occupation of the country in 1959, declared it an autonomous region in 1965.

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