Will Tibet figure in French president’s visit to China?

From left: Member of the National Assembly of France Jean-Patrick Gille, Noël Mamère, Tibetan activist Tenam, and French Senator André Gattolin at a Tibet rally in front of the Chinese Embassy in Paris, France.

From left: Member of the National Assembly of France Jean-Patrick Gille, Noël Mamère, Tibetan activist Tenam, and French Senator André Gattolin at a Tibet rally in front of the Chinese Embassy in Paris, France, on 13 February 2013. File photo/Jean-Patrick Gille

By Tenam

PARIS, France, 13 April 2013

As the French President François Hollande prepares for his first state visit to China later this month, there is a growing call from French lawmakers to include Tibet on the agenda in the discussion with Xi Jinping.

Responding to the question by Senator Andre Gattolin as to whether President Hollande “intend[s] to discuss the issue of human rights in China and in Tibet” with Xi Jinping, the French government responded that “Human Rights form an integral part of the dialogue between China and France.”

“No topic will be excluded and all questions will be discussed with candour and mutual respect for each other”, responded Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, French Minister for Woman’s Rights and the spokeswoman of the government.

In an open letter, French Deputies Jean-Patrick Gille and Noël Mamère, co-presidents of the French parliamentary group for Tibet, called on “President François Hollande not to exclude the issue of Tibet in the discussions with Chinese authorities during his forthcoming visit to Beijing.”

“France, in partnership with the European Union, must carry the banner of Tibetan freedom”, the letter reads.

It also said that China must allow access to Tibet to everyone, including the media, and “resume the dialogue that China decided to stop,” the letter concludes.

With regard to the possibility of a meeting between the French President and His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the government spokeswoman said that at the moment she is “not aware of any planned visit” of His Holiness to France.

The French Senate last year had passed a resolution asking the EU to give a mandate to Mr. Lambrinidis, Special Representative for Human Rights at EU, to make the issue of Tibet his priority.


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