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Europe to Turn on China?

3:46 PM, Mar 25, 2014 • By ELLEN BORK
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General Secretary Xi Jinping of China is in Lyon, France today, the second stop on a European swing, his first trip there since taking over the leadership of China’s Communist party.  He has already visited Amsterdam, where he met with President Obama. After France, including a visit to Paris, Mr. Xi will continue on to Germany and Belgium.

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Chinese leaders have grown accustomed to warm welcomes in Europe.  In 2004, Xi’s predecessor Hu Jintao arrived in Paris to find the Eiffel Tower bathed in red light, the Champs Elysee given over to a Chinese cultural march, and Jacques Chirac promising to scrap the EU arms embargo on China.

But this time, Mr. Xi may find his French and German hosts a bit less solicitous than in the past. A new poll by the International Campaign for Tibet shows strong majorities in favor of their leaders pressing Mr. Xi on Tibet and resisting Chinese pressure to renounce the Dalai Lama. (Incidentally, I am a member of the board of ICT.)

•       83 percent of French and Germans surveyed want their leaders to meet with the Dalai Lama.

•       78 percent of French want their president and 83 percent of Germans want their chancellor to make Tibet an issue with Xi Jinping.

•       An overwhelming majority of French and German citizens want their leaders to press Xi Jinping on human rights in China while a bare majority in France and under half in Germany want heavy Chinese investment in their economies.

These poll results send a strong message, even beyond France and Germany. China is engaged in a relentless campaign to get European leaders to isolate the Dalai Lama and abandon Tibet.  This poll indicates it has failed to sway the French and German publics. It’s hard to see how results in other countries would be any less strong – certainly not among the formerly Communist occupied Baltic states, where two leaders have defied Chinese pressure and received the Dalai Lama.

The next step for Europeans is to work together to coordinate principled policies on human rights in Tibet and China – and meet the Dalai Lama on his next visit to Europe.

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