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Angela Merkel Annoys China by Meeting Dalai Lama

Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have invited the Dalai Lama to the White House in 1994 and 2001. German chancellors have avoided upsetting the Chinese. Until now. Angela Merkel hosted a "private meeting" with the Dalai Lama in the chancellory on Sunday, September 23rd.

It was about time! Germany's federal president von Weizsäcker met with the Dalai Lama in 1990 and German foreign ministers Kinkel and Fischer agreed to meetings as well, but Merkel is Germany's first head of government to dare what US presidents have done in the past.
AFP reports that "Merkel signalled that she supported the Dalai Lama's quest for cultural autonomy for the Himalayan region, sticking to the course she steered during a visit to China in August in which she readily tackled human rights issues." Now China has cancelled two top-level meetings in retaliation.

China, however, seems to be doing some good work as well. Like many other papers, The Guardian writes: 

There are reports that China is pressuring Burma to avoid a crackdown. "The Myanmar government is tolerating the protesters and not taking any action against the monks because of pressure from China," a diplomat told The Associated Press. China wants to be seen as a moderating influence ahead of next year's Beijing Olympics.

Related post in the Atlantic Review: Olympics 2008: Only Americans Remind China of its Responsibility for Darfur

ENDNOTE: Merkel is not the only one who is dares to meet a foreign leader despite negative repercussions. Barack Obama says he would be willing as president to meet with President Ahmadinejad of Iran as a way to protect U.S. interests, reports Breitbart. The NY Daily News considers Ahmadinejad as the personification of evil. See graphic to the right.
Well, Saddam is gone and there is not much interest in catching Bin Laden. They need someone else. Kim Jong-Il still runs North Korea like a Gulag, but who cares? He agreed to dismantle his nukes, so he is not all that evil anymore for the NY Daily News.

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Don S on :

The Chinese oligarchs do not vote in Germany, though if she went far enough to PO the oligarchs enough to have them cut trade (which she hasn't yet done) that would be a mark of real political courage because it might turn German voters against her. This is an advance however, even if all it really amounts to is that the German government noiw treats the Chinese the way Germany has treated the US for many years.....

Zyme on :

To meet with the Dalai Lama is not the worst tactical movement: For years german politicians urged the Chinese to value copyrights and to decrease their mentality of replicating everything foreign. Few things are feared more than chinese students for internships in technological companies today. While China has always announced firm reforms in this regard, nothing has happened. So it is not wrong to support autonomy-movements in China, sending a political signal.

Pamela on :

He agreed to dismantle his nukes, And if anyone believes him, I've got a bridge around here somewhere I can sell you.......

Pamela on :

Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany was prepared to press for further sanctions against Iran unless the Islamic Republic abandoned its nuclear program. ``Germany wants diplomatic solutions'' in the dispute with Iran, ``but for that, it's necessary that we're ready to demand further sanctions if the behavior doesn't change,'' Merkel told reporters in New York today, where she is due to address the United Nations General Assembly. ``Israel's security isn't negotiable,'' she added. http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601100&sid=arPOhUjlqFVs&refer=germany Well good for her, but what the hell changed? I thought Sarkozy asked you for this a week or so ago and she told him to stuff it.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

I don't know for sure, but I assume that Merkel disagreed with Sarkozy's approach. The disagreement might not be in substance, but Sarkozy's style and lack of a plan to get the necessary UN votes for the sanctions etc. Or it's just personal. Letting Sarkozy know that he is not Napoleon. Don recently emailed me an interesting post by a guy from The Times. Quote: [i]When you receive the Sarko treatment, you sense the desire to dominate as well as the friendliness. I experienced it backstage in a TV studio after interviewing him in May. The slight menace and Sarko's small stature inevitably bring Hollywood gangsters to mind. With women, there is a patronising side. Merkel feels that Sarkozy has been pushing her around since he won the presidency in May and began trying to impose himself as boss of Europe. She has now had enough of his Tigger-like antics and her people are making it known that she resents the excessive greetings. Le Parisien newspaper relayed the complaint today: "Angela Merkel, who is very reserved, does not greatly value the outpouring of affection from her French opposite number -- his way of kissing her on every meeting and touching her and handling her shoulders in front of the cameras." The Germans might normally accept the Sarko style as Gallic warmth, but they see it as part of a power game in which the French president is breaking the rules of the Franco-German relationship. [/i] Source: [url=http://timescorrespondents.typepad.com/charles_bremner/2007/09/sarkozy-is-too-.html]Charles Bremner - Times Online - WBLG: Sarkozy is too friendly for the Germans[/url] Though, i am just speculating since I did not follow the discussion on new sanctions against Iran closely enough. Anybody know more?

Don S on :

To be honest I saw the Merkel-Sarkozy busines as about 90% personal - if not more. In a sense it's the same old crap Schroeder (and later Merkel) laid on Bush. They don't like 'cowboy' swagger or masculine Gallic charm so they piss all over their 'friends' while licking the boots of Chinese oligarchs, Putin, or petty third-world murderers like those in Sudan. Get over it. Friends are friend and adversaries are adversaries, at least until you turn friends like adversaries by treating them like crap!

Pamela on :

"Gallic warmth"?! Oxymoron. The other day I read - wish I could remember where - that Germany's trade with Iran is in the range of $5 billion a year. But I have no idea what industries are involved. Could be that she cut a deal to support sanctions as long as Germany didn't take a hit.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

The Spiegel (in German only) claims that Foreign Minister Steinmeier is writing a dossier to criticize the US and France for doing business with Iran. The US government would tolerate that Microsoft, Caterpillar, Pepsi- and Coca-Cola have a strong presence in Iran. Some of them and other US companies would use front companies in Dubai for doing business with Iran. Pen Name, can you confirm that these US products are available with brand name etc in Iran? French companies Peugeot, Renault, Total, BNP Paribas, Societé Générale do business as normal, while German companies do less business, writes Spiegel. Only in German: [url]http://www.spiegel.de/politik/debatte/0,1518,507240,00.html[/url]

pen Name on :

The consumer brands that you are mentioning are quite readily available in Iran. I do not know about Caterpillar - I would not be surprised but that business usually works on the basis of leased equipment. The leasing company may be a non-Iranian and a non-American firm. I do not think that these are necessarily front companies - if some one by 1000 licenses of MS Word in Dubai and resells them in Iran. I think what we cannot get are products with dual-use potential which basically means any thing with high-technological content.

Pat Patterson on :

The amounts of trade between France and Iran and Germany and Iran are relatively insignificant, $5 billion for the former and roughly $3 billion for the latter. This is simply not a big enough slice of either country's economy to put the rest of the economy at risk. However the relative strength of either countries political leadership is significant. Chancellor Merkel operates with a fairly small margin of safety and because of campaign promises and the continued sluggish economy simply cannot engage in any adventures overseas that might cause her coalition to fracture. Unlike Pres. Bush and to a lesser extent Pres. Sarkozy. she simply hasn't the constitutional perogatives to act unless she has a consensus within the parliament. Any act she might contemplate without some type of agreement with the affected businesses would most likely be opposed in parliament by politicians acting on behalf of these trading partners of Iran. While the other two leaders have power vested in their offices, especially Pres. Bush who can still act in spite of opposition control of both legislative bodies. While Pres. Sarkozy has an absolute majority in both houses and some independent powers that also allow him to ignore some domestic businesses that might be lobbying strenuously against any acts that might jeopardize their dealings with Iran. Sarkozy might seem pushy to the Germans but that is probably because he can be. Cynically one could even claim that he is ratcheting up pressure of Germany simply to keep Chancellor Merkel distracted and in line. The less Germany acts, notwithstanding meaningless meetings with religious fascists, the more they are marginalized and unreliable to either France or the US.

Pat Patterson on :

It's Germany with $5 billion in trade and France with almost $3 billion. Poor Iran, most of the French trade is in Peugeot parts!

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

a) You are calling the Dalai Lama...what? b) Within four years you will be as mad at Sarkozy as you were at Chirac. Don't get fooled by Sarkozy's rhetoric.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

@ Pat and Don and everybody who thinks the "pro-American" Sarkozy will support the next US led wars: France does not have the money for any significant military contributions. Look how expensive the Iraq war is and the financial state of affairs: [i]President Nicolas Sarkozy's government on Wednesday unveiled a first budget since taking office that shied away from attacking France's huge deficit despite warnings that the state was bankrupt. Prime Minister Francois Fillon caused a stir last week when he said the nation was "in a situation of bankruptcy" after decades of accumulated budget deficits and called for a change in mindset. (...) Sarkozy has also brushed aside predictions that France will have to drastically rein in spending and argued that economic growth was key to filling state coffers. (...) France, the eurozone's second largest economy, has come under pressure from its European partners to rein in public spending and meet a 2010 target for a balanced budget.[/i] Source: [url=http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jly89KLynfAd2mVmFk6g7e41G6xg]AFP: Sarkozy's first budget unveiled in 'bankrupt' France[/url] Sarkozy might not care about the deficit (similar to some other president) and he might even join the upcoming US war against Iran. Okay, but how long will he get away with it? It will be over after the next parliamentary elections. French voters will decide that they don't have the money for these wars. They don't want to see their countrymen die either. Thus, they will pull out their troops quickly. Then the US is left alone again. You guys were mad, when Zapatero pulled Spain's troops out of Iraq. Well, his predecessor Aznar went into the war against the wish of the Spanish people. The same will happen with Sarkozy and France. Pat, you called Germany "unreliable." Well, we are more straight forward. Politicians follow public opinion in matters of war and peace. Unlike Aznar. And probably unlike Sarkozy. In the end, I believe Germany has been more reliable than Spain. We said right from the beginning that we don't participate in Iraq war and we oppose a war against Iran. Sarkozy, however, plays the Pro-American (or rather pro Bush) and gives you guys the wrong impression. The consequence will be that your disappointed when he won't be able to stick to his words.

Don S on :

Perhaps you are correct, Joerg. Remains to be seen. I haven't fallen in love with Sarko, but at this point in time he seems to represent a somewhat more forceful advocate of positive change than Merkel does. She started out well but I haven;t seen much for more than a year, so what is coming out of Germany these days sometimes resembles the same old same old from the Gerd and Joshcka show....

Don S on :

"Sarkozy might not care about the deficit (similar to some other president) and he might even join the upcoming US war against Iran. Okay, but how long will he get away with it? It will be over after the next parliamentary elections." I followed your link with baited breath, Joerg, eagerly anticipating what horrid gallic secret was there to be found! What I saw was somewhat less exciting. Basically a status quo budget with minor improvement. French deficit spending at a level of 2.4% of GDP, down from last year's 2.42%. Apocalypse Now it's not, I think. The French national debt is due to fall from 64.2% of GDP to 64.0%, again not exactly a shock. I'm not sure what you are going on about, Joerg. Usually the first budget of a new executive (in any country) is the last budget of his/her predecessor, perhaps with a few frills and furbelows added or subtracted. How could it be otherwise? There hasn't been time to put the new leader's personal stamp on things. There is one positive thing to be said for increased deficits when they accompany fundamental reform. The problem is that the people commonly resist reform, even deeply needed reform, because reform usually means fiscal pain in the short term, with visible gains showing up in the medium to long term. One way to overcome the resistance of the people is to engineer an economic boom via deficit spending then do the economic surgery - with the boom acting as the anesthetic. It's a lot easier to throw some people out of work when alternate jobs are readily available than when years of unemployment await. There are more important things than running a surplus every year, most notably keeping your people in productive work and integrating young people into gainful employment with some celerity. Government jobs programs might serve the purpose except for one little problem - the requirement that the work be 'productive'. Government work programs mostly aren't that - the private sector usually does a much better job of that. I've come to believe that both economic booms and recessions serve a positive role in the jobs cycle. Recessions cut the dead wood if you let the. I define dead wood not in terms of people but rather in terms of enterprises. There are things which aren;t worth doing - recessions kill them off. Thsi is a widely appreciated fact of life I think. The role of booms is less-well appreciated economically, I think. I see booms as natures way of encouraging change. During a boom people are more easily able to change professions or gain footholds in new professions - booms serve as lubricants in this sense. They encourage innovation. I believe a society without booms may also have an innovation deficit, particularly in breakthroughs as opposed to stepwise change. Think about the economic history of Germany, and particularly compare the post-war 'miracle' with the 1990's. Which was more innovative? I think post-war - am I wrong?

Merkel-2 on :

Merkel try to make herself different from her predecessor Gerhard Schröder . Not only her rivals from SPD (which is part of the grand coalition)but also her political tutor Helmut Kohl. That’s the beaten track for all the dirty politician. Merkel play Dalai card to its rivals from SPD party , she want to earn a good reputation for her next election. That was described as "Show-window policy " by grand coalition's foreign minister (a SPD high-profile leader) Merkel play Dalai card also aims at gaining an upper hand to China . She want more compromise from China in other issues. If Merkel was called a hero in German because she defing China's threat, I don’t know what China officals gonna do . I highly doubt they dare to sacrifice china’s core interests to flatter Merkel. I guess she maybe miscalculate the whole situation there. China after all have no interest in German’s internal politician(esp. election ). They will abide by its principle. I think the deteriorating relationship with China will not help Merkel to achieve her ambitions as a world leadership in global affairs.

Merkel-2 on :

Merkel strategy is to form a ally across the Atlantic ocean to meet the challenges like new power's (like China's) emergence and nuclear proliferation & terrorists. She need USA more than George Bush need her. So Merkel readjust her pllicy to be in accordance with US's stance. She reach many agreement explicitly and implicitly. Merkel the most exaggerating human-right's liar purposedly neglect many atrocities in Iraq and Afghan. What Merkel's expressions on US troops' inhumanity in Guantanamo (Cuba)prison and Iraq inland prisons sounds just like a joke . While Mrs Merkel 's response to Czech PM and Poland premier requests for justice and compensation for German's atrocity during World War II give me an impression that: Merkel's respect for human rights is highly selective. Anything which justifies but unfortunately is against her will could never be approved by her highness. What make all her voters confused and make all her SPD partners puzzled is she can do evil things in the name of goodness . what a dirty hypocrite she is .

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