11/27/2008, 00.00
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Sarkozy to meet Dalai Lama, China cancels summit with EU

The summit is put off to a date to be decided. Europe criticises China; a Tibetan spokesman comments decision. Chinese police prevent European lawmakers from meeting the wife of jailed human rights activist Hu Jia.
Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – China has postponed a summit with the European Union scheduled for next Monday in Lyon (France). China’s Prime Minister Wen Jiabao was expected to attend the meeting.

The decision was taken after French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that he will meet the Dalai Lama on 6 December in Poland. Mr Sarkozy is also the current EU president.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang said “we oppose any foreign leaders having any contact with the Dalai.”

In a statement the European Union announced that it took note “and regrets this decision by China” to postpone the 11th EU-China summit for which it had “ambitious aims.”

None the less, it plans to continue to “promote the strategic partnership it has with China,” especially in the economic and financial fields.

Earlier this year the French president did not meet the Dalai Lama as expected but sent instead his wife Carla Bruni and French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner (pictured).

Geshe Gedun Tharchin, a Tibetan lama living in Rome, told AsiaNews that “Beijing wants to prevent any meeting between the Dalai Lama and foreign leaders, any official recognition. It insists on calling him a dangerous criminal,” someone who foments terrorism in Tibet and seeks its secession.

For the international community the Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader who is fighting to preserve the culture and religion of Tibet.

Last May China came in for a lot of criticism. Fearful that it might lead to a boycott of the Beijing Games in August, it agreed to hold talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama.

But according to Lama Gedun, “a few days ago the eighth round of meetings took place and the Tibetans presented various proposals for greater autonomy. China said all of them were against Chinese law and unacceptable, dismissing any proposal for greater autonomy. Perhaps the talks ended there.”

Meanwhile in Beijing police stopped members of the European parliament from meeting Zeng Jinyan at her home. She is the wife of a well-known human rights activist, Hu Jia, who was sentenced to three and half years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power.”

Last month he won the prestigious Sakharov Prize which is awarded to human rights advocates. This led to protests by Chinese authorities.

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See also
Ban Ki-moon staying away from Olympic Opening Ceremony
EU: Free Hu Jia; the Olympics should not be a pretext for illegal arrests
Dissidents Hu Jia and Gao Zhisheng favoured for Nobel Peace Prize
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Beijing asks Sarkozy government to "take effective steps to mend its errors"


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