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China says German ties 'seriously damaged' over Dalai Lama

November 23, 2007

20 November 2007, 11:22 CET

(BEIJING) - China on Tuesday pronounced its relations with Germany
"seriously damaged" a day after Chancellor Angela Merkel stood by her
decision to meet the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing views as a dangerous

"We feel regret that... German Chancellor Angela Merkel seriously
damaged the bilateral relationship and also the common interests of the
two sides," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told reporters.

Liu had been asked for comment on a statement Monday by Merkel's
spokesman, who said the chancellor receives "the right to receive whom
she wants, where she wants."

The German statement came after China demanded that Berlin take the
initiative in patching up relations.

Germany and China, the world's third and fourth-largest economies, have
been in an escalating spat over Merkel's September 23 audience with the
Tibetan spiritual leader.

The Dalai Lama regularly travels the world seeking support for greater
Tibetan autonomy, but Beijing bristles at countries who receive him,
saying he advocates independence for the Chinese-controlled Himalayan

Since the September meeting, China has cancelled or pulled out of a
number of bilateral and international meetings that involved Germany.

With an EU-China summit set for next week in Beijing, Liu hinted that
the spat could colour China's ties with Europe as a whole.

"We attach great importance to the position of Germany in the EU and the
role of Germany in promoting relations between China and the EU," he said.

"Precisely because of that, we hope Germany can proceed with the
interests of China and the EU in mind in handling this issue."

However, Liu quickly added that China-EU ties, which have been marked by
a deepening trade relationship, are "developing quite soundly."

China has ruled Tibet since 1951, after sending in troops a year earlier
to "liberate" the devoutly Buddhist region.

The Dalai Lama also has been received by US President George Bush and
the leaders of Australia and Canada this year, but Germany's ties with
China have appeared to have suffered the most.
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