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China 'has no choice but to react' to French leader's Dalai Lama meeting
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After the French announced their leader would meet the Dalai Lama, China had no choice but to react, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on Friday in a statement.

France made the announcement brushing aside China's stance and bilateral relations, Qin said.

He said China attached great importance to the 11th China-European Union Summit scheduled to take place in France in early December, and had made active and intensive preparations for it. But the French leader, Nicholas Sarkozy, whose country currently holds the EU rotating presidency, announced he would meet the Dalai Lama after the summit, which aroused strong opposition from the Chinese government and people.

"China firmly opposes any contacts with the Dalai Lama by foreign leaders in whatever form," Qin said.

"The Tibet issue is related to China's sovereignty and territorial integrity and touches on China's core interests," he said.

To maintain good relations with France and the EU, China has been patiently talking with France time and again, hoping that it would properly handle the Tibet issue, so as to create necessary conditions for the China-EU summit, Qin said.

Regrettably, France did not actively respond to China's efforts to maintain relations with France and the EU. "Therefore, the summit cannot be held in a sound atmosphere, nor can it achieve expected goals. Under such circumstances, China has no choice but to postpone the summit," he said.

"The current situation is not caused by China, nor should China be held responsible," Qin pointed out.

Nevertheless, China does not change its determination and policy to actively develop EU-China comprehensive and strategic partnership. China is still willing to work together with the EU to push forward the healthy and stable development of China-EU relations on the basis of mutual respect on an equal footing, he said.

Qin said China cherishes the ties with France and has been making active and unremitting efforts to develop bilateral relations.

"We hope that France could proceed with an overall perspective, fulfil its commitments, and properly deal with China's major concerns in earnest so as to create conditions for the steady development of bilateral relations," he added.

(Xinhua News Agency November 29, 2008)

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