Minorities must not hinder ties: Envoy

By Zhang Haizhou (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-28 06:28

Former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin said on Saturday he would tell his president that no minority should be allowed to impair the relationship between China and France.

Raffarin, Nicolas Sarkozy's special envoy, arrived in China on a four-day visit last Thursday amid rising anti-French sentiment whipped up by recent disruptions to the Olympic torch relay in Paris and that city's bestowal of honorary citizenship on the Dalai Lama.

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"No one! Even those from the minorities have the right to dally with the Sino-French friendship," Raffarin told a briefing when asked what message he would send back to the Elysee Palace.

"I will tell President Sarkozy that the Chinese leadership takes Sino-French friendship and the strategic partnership between us seriously."

In a private letter extended through Raffarin to President Hu Jintao, Sarkozy affirmed that France's basic policy toward China remained unchanged and adhered to the one-China policy.

Raffarin told reporters that recent anti-China disturbances were caused by small numbers of people unrepresentative of the French people's general attitude.

"Both sides should encourage more communication to enhance mutual understanding", he said, noting that most people are unaware of the hardships Tibetans endured 50 years ago.

Raffarin then said Tibet was exclusively a domestic affair for China, after which he welcomed Beijing's decision to meet with the Dalai Lama's representative.

"The decision is positive. It shows clearly that the door for talks has remained open," Raffarin said.

Xinhua news agency reported on Friday that "the relevant department of the central government" would talk with the Dalai's private representative on the proviso that all activities aimed at splitting China, plotting and inciting violence and sabotaging the Beijing Olympic Games cease immediately.

Raffarin said that these conditions were achievable and wished the Olympics success.

In another development, Vice-President Xi Jinping said China hoped France would pay close attention to the current problems in bilateral relations and make concerted efforts to promote ties when meeting Sarkozy's diplomatic adviser, Jean-David Levitte, yesterday in Beijing.

"We hope the French side will pay great attention to the current problems in the China-France relationship, take concrete actions and work with China to overcome difficulties, enhance friendship and deepen mutual trust, so as to make the relationship continue to develop in a healthy and stable way," Xi said.

He said strengthening the strategic partnership between Beijing and Paris was not only in the interests of both sides but also conducive to peace, stability and development.

Levitte told Xi that President Sarkozy and his government attached great importance to improving and strengthening the strategic partnership between France and China and were ready to do all they could in this regard.

In a meeting with State Councilor Dai Bingguo a day earlier, Levitte reaffirmed France's one China policy and said France regards Tibet and Taiwan an integral part of China's territory.

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