12/09/2008, 00.00
CHINA - TIBET - UE

Beijing asks Sarkozy government to "take effective steps to mend its errors"

Extremely harsh reaction to meeting with Dalai Lama. China is threatening to make France pay a "heavy price." Tibetan leader in exile: China must overcome "two moral obstacles" to become a genuine superpower.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Beijing is insisting that French prime minister Nicolas Sarkozy has compromised relations between China and the European Union, in which he holds the rotating presidency. Liu Jianchao, spokesman for the foreign ministry, reiterated today the "hope and demand that the French side will assume corresponding responsibility and take effective steps to mend its errors."

On December 6, Sarkozy met with the Dalai Lama for about 30 minutes in Gdansk (Poland), during a ceremony to honor the 25th anniversary of the awarding of the Nobel peace prize to Polish labor union leader Lech Walesa. Sarkozy has asked that the event not be "dramatized," while diplomatic circles are noting that the Tibetan leader recently met with other heads of European governments.

But Beijing maintains that the meeting is "grave" for the presidency of the EU, currently held by France. Deputy foreign minister He Yafei said on state television that "the key in the next stage in developing Sino-French relations is for the French side to . . . fully grasp the damage done to Sino-French and Sino-EU relations by the French leader's meeting with the Dalai Lama." The state news agency Xinhua said yesterday that France will pay "a heavy price" for the meeting.

The previous day, the Dalai Lama, speaking to the EU parliament in Brussels, emphasized that China deserves the role of superpower, because of the size of its population and its economic and military power, but that it lacks "moral authority," considering, among other things, "the extremely poor level of respect for human rights, religious freedom, freedom of expression, and freedom of the press." The Dalai Lama accuses Beijing of carrying out a cultural genocide against the Tibetan population, and asks for the support of the international community in order to prevent this. China is accusing the Nobel peace prize laureate of being a dangerous terrorist, and of wanting Tibetan independence.

Tenzin Lekshay, head of the India-Tibet Coordination Office, explains to AsiaNews that China, in order to become a genuine superpower, must "overcome two moral obstacles." "On the domestic level, it must eliminate the distance between the population and the government, which instead is being expanded and is making leaders fearful over the stability of the communist regime." "In the international field, Beijing must act in a just and peaceful manner, and must accept its responsibilities for peace and justice in the world."

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