Fury over a European welcome for the Dalai Lama has led China to cancel an EU summit which could have helped forge a global response to the financial crisis.
Confirmation that President Sarkozy would meet the Tibetan spiritual leader early next month was too much for Beijing, already irritated by the European Parliament’s decision to award its Human Rights’ prize to a jailed Chinese dissident.
The Dalai Lama enjoys worldwide celebrity as he pursues his non-violent campaign for Tibetan autonomy. China blames him and his supporters for fuelling the fires which sparked rioting in Tibet and neighbouring Chinese provinces in March.
Beijing has stepped up its attacks on the Dalai Lama, rejecting his calls for Tibetan autonomy within China, and saying he secretly promotes full independence. Younger, more radical Tibetans still demand that, but the Dalai Lama has publicly rejected the idea.