China escalates criticism of Dalai Lama meeting

25th September 2007, Comments 0 comments

25 September 2007, Beijing (dpa) - China on Tuesday strengthened its criticism of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's weekend meeting with the Dalai Lama, the first by a serving chancellor and the Tibetan leader.

25 September 2007

Beijing (dpa) - China on Tuesday strengthened its criticism of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's weekend meeting with the Dalai Lama, the first by a serving chancellor and the Tibetan leader.

"German Chancellor Merkel, regardless of the solemn representations of the Chinese side, insisted on meeting the Dalai Lama," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters.

"This not only grossly interfered in the internal affairs of China and seriously hurt the Chinese people's feelings, but also undermined Sino-German relations," Jiang said.

China expressed "strong dissatisfaction" and urged Germany to "proceed from the general interests of bilateral relations," she said.

Germany should "take concrete and effective measures to eliminate the negative impact made by this mistaken move, so as not to bring unnecessary damage to Sino-German relations," Jiang said.

German officials on Monday said Merkel's foreign policy adviser had phoned the Chinese ambassador in Berlin to make clear Germany's continuing interest in links with China.

But the Chinese cancelled a New York breakfast meeting set for this week between the Chinese and German foreign ministers.

German government spokesman Thomas Steg said that Merkel's foreign policy adviser, Christoph Heusgen, had spoken to Ambassador Ma Canrong Monday to make clear that Berlin remained interested in maintaining and extending good relations with Beijing.

"We assume that intensive relations will continue and that good economic contacts will continue and be extended," he said.

Steg made clear that human rights issues were a matter of principle for Merkel and not subject to tactical considerations.

Talks of the kind conducted between Merkel and the Tibetan religious leader had to be possible without affecting German-Chinese relations, he said.

On Tuesday, Jiang said the German and Chinese foreign ministers would still meet in New York despite the cancellation of the breakfast meeting.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi would expand China's "solemn position" on the Dalai Lama at the meeting, she said.

Merkel met the Dalai Lama for a "private exchange of views" in the chancellery in Berlin Sunday, shrugging off objections from Beijing and warnings from within Germany that relations with China would be damaged.

Previous German chancellors carefully avoided meeting the Tibetan leader, who has lived in exile in India since 1959, for fear of angering Beijing.

But Merkel has made clear she backs the Dalai Lama's call for cultural and religious autonomy for the huge mountainous region in China's far west that was annexed by Beijing in 1951.

DPA

Subject: German news

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