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Meeting 'threatens' relations
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12:28, December 10, 2008

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French President Nicolas Sarkozy's insistence in meeting the Dalai Lama may worsen relations between China and France, and even threaten bilateral business ties, Chinese analysts have warned.

The French side has "underestimated" China's resolution to protect its sovereignty, Feng Zhongping, European studies director at the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, said on Friday.

"The French leaders haven't realized that the Tibet issue concerns China's core interests. They want to play the Tibet card and at the same time maintain good economic trade relations with China, which is very difficult to achieve," Feng said.

"China doesn't want the West to think that 'OK, we will meet the Dalai Lama, and business will go on as usual'," Feng said.

Paris had earlier announced Sarkozy would meet the Dalai Lama at a Dec 6 ceremony in Poland to honor former Solidarity leader Lech Walesa.

Beijing later said on Wednesday it would not attend the 11th Sino-EU Summit, scheduled to be held on Dec 1 in France, which holds the rotating EU presidency.

A French government spokesman confirmed on Thursday that the French leader would go ahead with his plan to meet the Dalai Lama.

The French ambassador to China, Herve Ladsous, said on Friday at a press conference in Beijing that "it was difficult to understand China's reaction".

"President Sarkozy will meet the Dalai Lama as a religious leader, not as a political leader," Ladsous said.

Former Chinese ambassador to Poland Pei Yuanying questioned the logic of the French ambassador.

"How can they cut apart the two faces of a person and define him on just one of his identities? The Dalai Lama is not a pure religious leader, or he would not have intervened in so many political incidents," Pei said.

Source: China Daily

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