Sarkozy Offers Beijing Olive Branch after Olympic Protests

April 22, 2008 04:45 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
French President Nicolas Sarkozy will send three representatives to China this week to bridge the diplomatic rift left by the Olympic protests in Paris.

30-Second Summary

The intensity of the demonstrations that greeted the Olympic torch's progress through Paris has caused China to single out France among Western nations as a target for counter-measures.

The image of wheelchair-bound Jin Jing—who has been called “smiling angel in a wheelchair” in China—guarding the torch from disorderly Parisian demonstrators proved so resonant among the Chinese citizenry that Sarkozy sent a written letter of apology to him on Monday.

Sarkozy’s efforts at conciliation follow last weekend’s anti-France rallies in China and talk of an unofficial boycott of French products.

So far Sarkozy has not said whether he will join German Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in spurning the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. French business leaders have urged Sarkozy to attend.

Tara Gupta of The Times of India also warns against further inciting China, writing, “an image of China as a nation beset by unfair attacks might lead to it becoming even more hostile to the views of the Western world.”

In addition, Wu Zhong, China Editor of the Asia Times, believes that Beijing should not antagonize the West by boycotting France: “There are far better—and more rational—ways for the Chinese public to express discontent … over the Olympic torch relay and the Western press than by wrapping itself in nationalistic fervor.”

Headline Links: Sarkozy sends representatives to China

Background: The Paris leg of the relay and the Chinese response

Opinion & Analysis: The benefit of protest and boycott

‘Chinese Have a Right to Protest’

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