France's image takes a beating in China

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President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama has greatly diminished people's appetite for France and its products, shows a survey done by one of China's most popular websites.

Of the 25,000 people polled by, more than 93 percent said their impression of France is getting worse.

And about 95 percent of the respondents said they supported the government's decision to defer a high-level meeting with European Union (EU) leaders. France holds the rotating presidency of the EU.

More than 150 Chinese executives were expected to meet with their EU counterparts on the sidelines of the meeting, reportedly to buy goods worth 10 billion euros ($13 billion).

After news spread that Sarkozy met with the Dalai Lama on Saturday, tempers flared across Internet chatrooms, too.

Netizens have expressed anger over France's "ignorance" about and "arrogance" toward China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and called for a nationwide boycott of French products.

The Foreign Ministry, however, has asked people to maintain calm.

In another survey conducted by, also a major portal, more than 90 percent people said they were angry with Sarkozy for meeting with the Dalai Lama.

About 80 percent of the 27,000 who were polled said "no" to a question: "If Sarkozy offered an apology, would you accept it?"

Sarkozy has been changing his political stance to suit his needs, many netizens said.

In April, he invited disabled Chinese torchbearer Jin Jing to visit France again "to make up for the pain you have suffered". Jin became a hero for defending the Olympic torch from Tibet separatists during the Paris leg of the torch relay.

"I would like to express to you my shock at the way you were attacked in Paris on April 7 when you were holding the Olympic flame," Sarkozy said in a note of sympathy, which was handed over to Jin by French Senate President Christian Poncelet in late April.

That apology was accepted by Jin and her compatriots.

"But this time we won't accept his apology because he has hurt us too many times," a netizen said.

This is not the first time people are shunning French products. In April, anti-France demonstrations erupted across the country after Tibet separatists disrupted the Olympic torch relay in Paris.

Many people then boycotted French brands and retail giant Carrefour for weeks.

Though some French netizens have criticized Sarkozy, a few have called for a boycott of Chinese goods, the Global Times said.

It quoted a French netizen as having said that the Chinese economy would suffer a lot if it loses the French market.


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