China angered by German visit with Dalai Lama

China will officially protest the planned meeting between German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul and the Dalai Lama, according to a newspaper report on Thursday.

China angered by German visit with Dalai Lama
Protests at the Chinese Embassy in Berlin in March Photo:DPA

“We remain consistent,” Zhang Junhui, a Chinese diplomat in Berlin, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. “We are opposed to a member of the German government receiving the Dalai Lama and Germany even letting him enter the country.”

After at first appearing reluctant to let a high-ranking official meet with the exiled Tibetan leader, the German government announced on Wednesday that Wieczorek-Zeul would hold talks with the Dalai Lama during his visit to Germany that started on Thursday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s meeting with the Dalai Lama in September 2007 caused a deep chill in relations between Germany and China. Merkel could not meet with him this time as she is currently in Latin America, but German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier will not see him either.

Zhang said it was impossible to consider the Dalai Lama only a visiting religious leader. “He wants to engage in politics,” Zhang said.

The Dalai Lama lashed out Thursday at the recent “suppression” of anti-Chinese unrest in Tibet, as he arrived in Germany at the start of a tour of Western powers in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics.

“The Chinese political authorities’ reaction, as before, was suppression. So it is very sad,” the Tibetan spiritual leader said after landing in Frankfurt.

He called for autonomy for the Himalayan region and stressed that Tibetans wanted to live in harmony with China: “Genuine harmony must come on the basis of trust, trust very much based on equality. So far these are lacking. We need genuine autonomy.”

Better relations with Tibet, he added, was “in the own interest of the people of this huge country.”