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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

China: Future French ties depend on Tibet handling

January 16, 2009

BEIJING 2009-01-13 (AP) - China warned Tuesday that the future of its ties with France depends on whether Paris can «correct its wrongdoing» over Tibet.
 
French President Nicholas Sarkozy triggered a firestorm of criticism from Beijing when he met with the Dalai Lama last month in Poland. Beijing issued strong protests and canceled a major China-EU summit planned for December in protest. France held the rotating chairmanship of the European Union at the time.
 
«In which direction bilateral relations goes will depend on whether France can ... take seriously China's solemn position and our justified concerns, take concrete actions to correct its wrongdoing on Tibet-related issues,» Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a news briefing.
 
China considers Tibet a part of its territory and routinely denounces the Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, as a separatist who seeks to end Chinese rule of the Himalayan region. Many Tibetans say they were effectively an independent country for most of the time that China says the region was under its control.
 
«When it comes to Tibet-related issues, the wrongdoing of France has gravely damaged the political basis of China-France relations, destroys the atmosphere of cooperation and undermines China's core interests as well as France's image in the hearts of Chinese people,» Jiang said.
 
Sarkozy has said he «regrets» tensions with China over his recent meeting and expressed confidence relations would soon improve.
 
China's ties with the French have been strained over the issue of Tibet since last April when pro-Tibetan activists protested en masse in the streets of Paris as the Olympic flame passed through the city on its world tour. In return, many Chinese protested, calling for boycotts of French products as well as major French retailer Carrefour.
 
Premier Wen Jiabao is expected to attend the World Economic Forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, in late January and visit several European countries. No details have been released on his itinerary.
 
Jiang said that China was committed to strengthening its strategic partnership with the EU, adding China's foreign minister recently exchanged friendly calls with the Czech foreign minister, which currently heads the EU chairmanship.
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