Brussels – Beijing has postponed the EU-China Summit due to be held in Lyon, France on December 1 due to its displeasure over the Dalai Lama’s visits to several European countries from November 29, including a meeting with French President Sarkozy in Gdansk, Poland and an address to the European Parliament in Brussels.

Vincent Metten, EU Policy Director of the International Campaign for Tibet, said: “Beijing’s decision to take such a disproportionate action would appear to be counter productive to its own interests and risks damaging European confidence in China as a responsible partner. Beijing cannot escape the reality that the EU, the United States and the United Nations all have serious concerns about the political and human rights situation in Tibet and respect the Dalai Lama’s leadership and his willingness to engage with China.”

China’s decision to postpone the meeting was announced to European ambassadors in Beijing a few days ago, and it appears that the meeting with French President Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama in Gdansk on December 6 is of particular concern. Despite strong pressure from Beijing, this meeting has not been cancelled.

The EU has responded to the Chinese decision with regret as “the EU had set ambitious objectives for the 11th EU-China Summit.” The 5th EU-China Business Summit was also planned to take place in the margins of the political summit in Lyon. China has publicly announced the postponement of the summit in the same week the EU is holding its Legal Experts Seminar and Human Rights dialogue with China in Beijing.

Vincent Metten said: “We recognize that the EU and the French President must have come under extreme pressure from the Chinese government over the last few weeks but, nonetheless, have stood by their decision to meet with the Dalai Lama. In doing so, they have signaled that the EU relationship with China is serious and substantial and should not be subjected to bullying.”

On 4 December, the Dalai Lama has been invited to speak at the plenary session of the European Parliament in the framework of the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue.