The head of France’s business lobby said Thursday she is “worried” about the trade implications of China’s decision to pull out of an upcoming China-European Union summit.
The EU-China summit was planned for Monday in the French city of Lyon. On the sidelines, around 150-200 Chinese business executives had been expected to meet with European counterparts at an event organized by the French employers lobby Medef.
China called off the meeting, however, in protest at French President Nicolas Sarkozy long-awaited meeting with Tibet‘s exiled Buddhist leader Dalai Lama.
Medef’s President Laurence Parisot called China’s decision “a real shame.”
“This worries me for French companies,” Parisot told the Associated Press.
“I don’t understand what motivated the Chinese authorities,” he said, noting that the U.S. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the Tibetan leader without provoking such a reaction.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang hinted that his government may be looking at economic reprisals as well.
“Since France has major interests in China, since the French leader repeatedly says that he takes China as a major strategic partner, then why is he doing this?” he asked at a news conference Thursday in Beijing.
“This is exactly where we feel confused and where the Chinese government and people express strong dissatisfaction.”
Pulling out of the summit suggests that countering criticism on Tibet is a bigger priority for China’s communist leaders than working with the EU and nations like France on solutions to the global financial crisis.