China lodges protest over Dalai Lama meeting
By GILLIAN WONG,Associated Press Writer AP - Monday, December 8
BEIJING - China protested strongly to France on Sunday over President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama, state media reported.
The official Xinhua News Agency said Deputy Foreign Minister He Yafei summoned the French ambassador to China, Herve Ladsous, "and lodged a strong protest."
Sarkozy met the Tibetan spiritual leader on Saturday behind closed doors 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.
Chinese state television quoted He Yafei as saying France now must "correct its mistake with actual deeds to enable China-France relations to continue to be healthy and stable and advance forward."
"This wrong act by France is a rude intervention in Chinese internal affairs and has hurt the feelings of Chinese people gravely," it quoted him as saying.
"Sarkozy gave no consideration to numerous Chinese citizens' intense opposition" by seeing the Dalai Lama, He said, calling the exiled Tibetan leader a separatist and "political hooligan."
China says Tibet has been part of its territory for more than seven centuries and denounces the Dalai Lama as a separatist who seeks to end Chinese rule of the Himalayan region. Many Tibetans say they were effectively an independent country for most of that time.
China issued numerous statements over the last week demanding that Sarkozy cancel the meeting and called off a major China-EU summit earlier this month in protest. Sarkozy sought to downplay the furor surrounding the meeting, saying, "There's no need to dramatize things."
Sarkozy stressed his talk with the Dalai Lama posed no threat to Beijing. "I told him how much importance I attach to the pursuit of dialogue between the Dalai Lama and the Chinese leadership," Sarkozy said. "The Dalai Lama confirmed what I already knew, that he is not demanding independence."
France has many pro-Tibetan activists who protested en masse in the streets as the Olympic flame passed through Paris in April on its world tour, angry about China's harsh crackdown on Tibetan demonstrators in March. Some Chinese called for boycotts of French products afterward.
China has hardened its resistance toward the Dalai Lama and the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner's calls for greater autonomy for his homeland.
The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in Dharmsala, India, since fleeing Tibet amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959. A self-proclaimed Tibetan government-in-exile also is based in the northern Indian city.
The Dalai Lama remains deeply revered among Tibetans, despite Beijing's relentless attempts to vilify him.
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