China: China-France communiqué and G20, a glorious defeat?

Chinese president Hu Jintao and French leader Sarkozy met ahead of the G2O summit on 1 April to repair the ties damaged since last year, when the torch relay was disrupted in Paris and President Sarkozy met with the Dalai Lama in spite of China's opposition.

China and France unveiled a press communique simultaneously after the meeting, in which France stated that it ‘reaffirms its adherence to the one-China policy and the position that Tibet is an integral part of the Chinese territory’, so that “France refuses to support any form for ‘Tibet independence'”.

China appreciated France's stance on the issue and in the G20one day later the host, British premier Gordon Brown seemed to recognize the repaired friendship and assigned Hu Jintao a seat right next to Sarkozy at the formal banquet.

The rift between China and France started since last year when France failed to prevent the Tibetan dissidents from spoiling the torch relay in Paris, a ceremony viewed by many Chinese as showing that China's honor as a great power was restored. The China-France controversy escalated when Sarkozy met with the Dalai Lama more than once and peaked when Chinese citizens voluntarily boycotted the French goods and enterprises in China.

The Chinese administration echoed their dissatisfaction by suspending some business deals with France. Premier Wen even avoided France deliberately at his diplomatic visit to Europe in February.

Now, everything seems to have been changed  with the global economic downturn in which China prevails with her ongoing growth and huge market. The western world conceded. Criticisms on Beijing died down and France gave up.  Is it so?

The Chinese blogsphere and internet, however, show their disappointment at the communique.

yun3578ufolala, posting on the popular online bulletin board Tianya, thought the statement was acutally a French ploy:



It seems that France has recognized China's authority in Tibet but there is a problem, in that there has never been any country that made such a statement about Tibet before.  They were exclusively about Taiwan partly because we need other countries to recognize Taiwan as part of China instead of its present ambivalent international status. But Tibet is completely different; first, it is governed under the sovereignty of mainland China and second it has never had a separate diplomatic status. That's why the Dalai Lama negotiates with the western world in his personal capacity in order to let other political entities to intervene thus making it an international issue instead of a domestic Chinese affair.

Thus with such maneuvering the status of Tibet is gradually becoming seen as that of another Taiwan.

Pages of replies followed the post. inzaghile agreed on the point, saying


Tibet is now another stake in any upcoming international bargaining.

SpEedBaBy thought CCP should have done better:


I also think we lost.
What's wrong with the CCP? It always wants to issue communiques even on domestic issues. Even a wife and son should be admitted by foreigners as ours or they don't belong to us. All it should ask France for is apology.

水寨头目 thought it was not all a concession and had no binding power


Judged from the literal meaning, France is free to meet with Dalai Lama in the future without any restraint. Sarkozy said nothing about his support on Tibetan independence last time either, but only talked about human rights and freedom.

风马云旗 parodied a row of statements:


I reiterate there is only one China…and Shanghai is part of China
I reiterate there is only one China…and Beijing is part of China
I reiterate there is only one China…and Guangdong is part of China
I reiterate there is only one China…and Fujian is part of China
I reiterate there is only one China…and Shanxi is part of China

huangdiany concludes


France has prevailed in this issue in that it has has succeeded in ‘Taiwanizing’ Tibet.

The G20 meeting came right after the meeting. Though Chinese netizens commonly think it as but a G2 meeting in which only China and America matter, pessimistic voices and worries are not absent. 統一口徑 supposed that Chinese should be more realistic:


The G20 Conference is not another Beijing Olympics.


We should know that besides China there is also Korea, India, Mexico and Turkey etc.. China is just one of the G2O. The principle we followed before is that the world belong neither to the U.S nor the USSR. Similarly, though China has become the third largest economic entity in the world, the world is not China's!


It is shameful to be arrogant on our economic achievements because China is still a state clamping down on free speech and news freedom, a state with the largest wealth disparity, a state still with emphasis on privilege. Despite its strong economic power, China is far from democracy and modern civilization.


As an ordinary Chinese I believe that what we should be seeking is not a Chinese government that frequently says ‘we are not happy and parades how rich we are as a nation.’ We want a self-disciplined, self-critical and responsible government which is supervised by the legislature. It should understand and believe that the ultimate and only source of legitimacy of a democratic government comes from the citizens who vote for it.

Post edited by Bob Guy


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