Join our Mailing List

"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Dalai Lama Meets A Top German Official - But Only One

May 21, 2008

European leaders are struggling to balance growing trade ties with
China and deep public sympathy for Tibetans and their exiled leader,
wrapping up his first stop on a global tour.
By Mariah Blake
The Christian Science Monitor
May 19, 2008 edition

Hamburg, Germany - The Dalai Lama hasn't even finished the first leg
of his global tour promoting Tibet's cause in the run-up to the
Beijing Olympics, but emotions are already running high.

In Germany, where he wraps up a five-day visit Monday, there has been
widespread public outrage that top politicians have declined to meet
the exiled Tibetan leader. Meanwhile China is fuming over the one
cabinet-level meeting he has landed, with Development Minister
Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul.

"We object to a member of the German government receiving the Dalai
Lama and to Germany allowing him to carry out this visit," Junhui
Zhang, a spokesman for the Chinese Embassy in Berlin said Friday,
adding that the meeting violates Germany's "one-China" policy and
threatens the "stable development of bilateral relations."

The row in Germany is a sign of the delicate balancing act facing
European nations as they struggle to reconcile their growing trade
ties to China with concern over the nation's human rights record and
deep public sympathy for Tibetans and their leader – more popular
here than the German-born pope.

Last fall, Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has made human rights a
hallmark of her foreign policy, personally received the Dalai Lama.
But the meeting put a chill on German-Chinese relations.

This time he has gotten a cooler welcome. Foreign Minister
Frank-Walter Steinmeier and President Horst Köhler both declined to
meet the Nobel Peace Laureate, citing scheduling conflicts, as have
other members of the German cabinet. Critics charge that Berlin is
succumbing to pressure from the Chinese.

"Steinmeier risks creating the impression in China that human rights
is not a central issue for the German government," said Roland Koch,
governor of the south German state of Hesse, last week. "At a time
when talks have begun between the Chinese and the exiled Tibetan
leadership, this would be fatal."

Tibet is also dismayed. "We are very disappointed [at Steinmeier's
refusal to meet], given the current situation in Tibet," Tseten
Chhoekyapa, the Tibetan leader's official European representative,
told the Monitor.

Following the public outcry, Ms. Wieczorek-Zeul agreed to meet the
Dalai Lama. But that has sparked fresh strife - within the German
government. The foreign ministry said the visit would undermine its
support for direct talks between China and Tibetan leaders.

 From Germany, the Dalai Lama will travel to Britain, Australia, the
US, and France, where he will end his tour on August 20 -- just four
days before the Olympics end.

China has explicitly warned European nations not to support the Dalai
Lama and his efforts to rally backing for Tibet, leaving European
leaders in a delicate position.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown recently announced that he plans
to receive the Dalai Lama on May 23 at the official residence of the
Archbishop of Canterbury — underscoring that the visit is spiritual
in nature, not political. And last month the European Union rejected
a French proposal to invite the Dalai Lama to meet with the bloc's
foreign ministers.

These developments reflect the complexity of China's relationship
with the EU. The 27-nation bloc has worked hard to build ties with
the Asian nation, its fastest-growing trading partner. But there's
also growing European frustration with China's economic policies,
which have helped create a sizable EU trade deficit, and
disappointment at the pace of China's internal reforms.

Nowhere is the gap wider than over Tibet. The EU has threatened to
boycott the Olympics opening ceremony to punish China for cracking
down on the protests in Tibet this spring. Meanwhile, Chinese are
boycotting European businesses, especially the French supermarket
Carrefour, in a backlash against pro-Tibet demonstrations that marred
the Olympic torch relay in Paris.

But on his German tour, the Dalai Lama has rarely mentioned these
skirmishes. Instead, he's sounded a conciliatory note, saying he is
saddened by the toll of the earthquake in China. He has also called
for a harmonious solutions to the Tibet-China standoff. "Genuine
harmony must come on the basis of trust, trust very much based on
equality. So far these are lacking."
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank