- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 26, 2008

BEIJING (AP) - China said French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s planned meeting with the Dalai Lama, Beijing’s hated foe, left it no option but to pull out of an upcoming China-European Union summit.

Sarkozy’s decision had “deprived the EU-China summit of the required good atmosphere and made it impossible for it to obtain the anticipated result,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Thursday in a statement posted on the ministry’s Web site.

“We resolutely oppose the Dalai traveling to other countries in any capacity to carry out activities aimed at splitting China. We resolutely oppose foreign leaders having any form of contact with the Dalai,” Qin said.

The cancellation, first announced Wednesday by the would-be summit host France, was a dramatic example of the lengths to which Beijing will go to try to internationally isolate Tibet’s exiled Buddhist leader. The Dalai Lama fled the Himalayan region for India amid a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.

Because France currently holds the rotating presidency of the 27-nation EU, Sarkozy was to have hosted the EU-China summit that was scheduled for Monday in the southern French city of Lyon. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao had been due to attend.

The summit was to have come just five days prior to Sarkozy’s long-awaited meeting with the Dalai Lama. Despite China’s ire, the meeting will go ahead, French government spokesman Luc Chatel said Wednesday.

The Dalai Lama will visit the Czech Republic, Belgium and Poland from Saturday.

In recent months, China has hardened its resistance toward the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner’s calls for greater autonomy for his homeland, largely in response to a widespread anti-Chinese uprising in Tibet earlier this year.

China says Tibet has been part of its territory for 700 years, although many Tibetans say they were effectively independent for most of that time.

The Dalai Lama remains deeply revered among Tibetans despite Beijing’s relentless attempts to vilify him.

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