Up to Sarkozy to get ties back on track
By Zhang Haizhou
It is up to French President Nicolas Sarkozy to put
Sino-French relations back on track, the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs said on Tuesday.
France holds the rotating presidency of the European Union
(EU) till the end of this year. And since Sarkozy is the
president of that country, his decision to meet with the
Dalai Lama in Poland on Saturday forced China to defer the
China-EU meeting, scheduled for Monday.
"The French president, who ignored China's concern, should
be fully responsible (for the downturn in bilateral
relations)," Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a
"This is the time for France to make an important decision
and we hope it will create conditions for advancing China's
relations with the EU and France," he said.
No likely date has been chosen for the meeting, and Liu
said it can only be held "in a proper atmosphere", for
which France must take "pressing measures".
Despite China's opposition, Sarkozy will go ahead with his
meeting with the Dalai Lama, said Feng Zhongping, director
of European studies at the China Institute of Contemporary
Sarkozy had angered Chinese earlier, too, by hinting that
he might not attend the Beijing Olympic Games Opening
Ceremony over the Tibet policy.
"Sino-French relations are likely to sour further," Feng
said. The 11th China-EU meeting, an annual event, could
eventually be cancelled because there are just four more
weeks left in the year, during which it would be hard to
find a date for the meeting.
The 12th China-EU meeting has already been allotted to the
Czech Republic, which takes over the EU presidency next
China's decision to defer the meeting was taken "after
thoughtful deliberation", Feng said. There could have been
a chain effect had it not done so because some other
European leaders, too, want to meet with the Dalai Lama.
"Pulling out of the meeting is sending a message to other
countries to respect China's core interests," Feng said.
Deteriorating Sino-French ties are bothering Europeans in
The EU Chamber of Commerce in China said it was
"disappointed that in time of global financial turmoil and
a significant economic slowdown the Chinese leadership
decided to postpone the EU-China meeting".
Wu Baiyi, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Social
Sciences, suggested France should first focus on how to get
out of the financial turmoil.
"They (China and France) should first clarify what they
want to do." But, Wu said, Sarkozy's decision to meet the
Dalai Lama is an example of being "irresponsible to his own