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China cancels the Summit with the EU

Human Rights Without Frontiers
November 27, 2008

Following China's cancellation of the EU-China summit, originally scheduled for 1 December, the European Council on Foreign Relations has issued the following reaction.

Francois Godement, Director of the ECFR-Asia Centre at SciencesPo in Paris, said:

"China's decision to cancel its scheduled summit meeting with the EU is a spectacular gesture and an unprecedented step in the bilateral relationship. In blaming Nicolas Sarkozy's upcoming meeting with the Dalai Lama, China takes its policy of routinely cancelling human rights dialogues with European officials to the highest political level. This aggressive move from China's diplomacy has been facilitated by the scurrilous divisions between EU countries themselves. Throughout the year, senior European leaders have scandalously failed to coordinate on the issue of Tibet and the Dalai Lama. The sorry spectacle of European disunity over the financial and economic crisis has confirmed to China's leaders that Europe is not a unitary actor and can be publicly provoked at no significant political cost. It is urgent for Europeans to realise the steep political price for their failure to agree on common principles and practice for their China policy."

John Fox, Senior Policy Fellow at ECFR's London office, said:

"China's decision to cancel the EU-China summit calls into question the very idea that China and Europe have a strategic relationship. China's bully-boy tactics of trying to dictate who European leaders can and cannot meet are completely unacceptable and Europe should stand firm in defending President Sarkozy's decision to see the Dalai Lama in Poland. Europe's relationship with China is one that both sides need, and the summit an event that should have been used to forge a partnership for dealing with the financial crisis. European leaders therefore urgently need to show China that it cannot be divided and bullied and that the current Chinese actions damage both sides' interests."

A forthcoming report entitled "A Power Audit of EU-China Relations" - co-authored by the two experts - will take a critical look at the EU-China relationship and the EU's ability to protect its interests and values in the face of a global power shift from West to East. The report is due for publication in January 2009. 

Contact us

For interviews and background, ECFR's experts can be reached at:

Francois Godement - - mobile : 0033 6 1172 7544
John Fox - - mobile : 0044 77 9693 8268

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