- Bernard Kouchner - China - Dalai Lama - independence - Nicolas Sarkozy - Tibet
BEIJING — China stepped up pressure to isolate the Dalai Lama on Wednesday, opposing talks between the Tibetan spiritual leader and French officials during his proposed trip to France in August.
China's foreign ministry said it was firmly against meetings between the Dalai Lama, whom it blames for recent deadly unrest in Tibet, and officials from any other country.
"The Chinese government resolutely opposes official contact of any kind between any country and the Dalai Lama," said Qin Gang, the foreign ministry spokesman.
"China resolutely opposes the Dalai Lama going to any other countries in any capacity to promote his separatism from China."
Qin was responding to a question about the Dalai Lama's proposed trip to France in August and possible meetings with French officials, including President Nicolas Sarkozy.
China has already this week denounced Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives, for meeting with the Dalai Lama. Last week, China spoke out against a plan by Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain to meet him in May.
A Tibetan spokesman said Tuesday that the Dalai Lama would visit France in August. Beijing is playing host to the Olympic Games from Aug. 8 to 24.
Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, in an interview published Wednesday, recommended that Sarkozy meet with the Dalai Lama during the trip.
France's junior minister for human rights, Rama Yade, said she intended to meet with the Tibetan Buddhist leader.
China has branded the Dalai Lama a separatist and said he masterminded this month's unrest in the Himalayan region which has left at least 140 dead, according to Tibetan exile groups. China has put the toll at 20.
Kouchner said the ordinary people of Tibet had a different view of the Dalai Lama than the Chinese government.
"For the people he is a religious leader, a guide to the Tibetan people. I think one should meet with him, but it is not me who decides," Kouchner told the daily Le Parisien.
Sarkozy has spoken out against the crackdown in Tibet and said Tuesday a boycott of the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony was possible.
The Dalai Lama, who won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, has repeatedly denied Chinese charges that he has orchestrated the recent unrest and that he wants independence for his homeland.
He has said only wants greater autonomy under Chinese rule for Tibet, and for an end to the repression there.
The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule, which officially began eight years earlier.