Germany suspends aid talks with China, says Tibetan official

March 21st, 2008 - 12:51 am ICT by admin  

Dharamsala, March 20 (IANS) The Tibetan government-in-exile based here Thursday claimed that Germany has openly come out in support of Tibetans and the Tibet cause and has suspended aid talks with China. “Germany has said it is freezing aid talks with the Chinese government as a result of China’s crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet,” a senior Tibetan official told reporters.

According to the Tibetan official, Germany has criticised the onslaught against ethnic Tibetans by the Chinese government in the run-up to Beijing’s Olympics and described it as a fresh blow to Berlin-Beijing relations.

Germany said it was suspending intergovernmental aid talks with China if the country did not end a bloody clampdown on Tibetan protestors.

He quoted German Development Minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul as saying that her ministry would suspend negotiations with the Chinese government, which mainly involves grants to reduce air pollution by Chinese power plants.

“Violence can never be a solution,” Wieczorek-Zeul said. “The two sides can only arrive at a solution through dialogue. Under such conditions, it is hardly conceivable to be conducting intergovernmental negotiations,” she said.

The move marks a fresh upset in Berlin-Beijing relations, which had only recently been patched up after Chinese anger at Chancellor Angela Merkel receiving the Dalai Lama in her office in September last year.

Wieczorek-Zeul says talks will be suspended until the violence ends.

Government level talks between Berlin and Beijing, scheduled to start in May, would not begin until the violence has stopped, Wieczorek-Zeul said.

The minister last year oversaw talks that led to total grants of 67.5 million euros ($105 million), her aides said.

These were mainly paid out to Chinese companies operating electricity plants. Berlin said it offered the help because China had the world’s second-largest emissions of carbon dioxide and was the world’s worst sulphur-dioxide polluter.

The Chinese crackdown on protesters in Tibet and nearby provinces has sparked calls for a boycott of the August Beijing Games that China wants to turn into a celebration of its emergence as a world power.

Beijing has blamed Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, for the monk-led protests and rioting - the most serious in the Himalayan region for nearly two decades - to try to wreck the Aug 8-24 Games.

The Dalai Lama insists he only wants greater autonomy for his homeland, not independence from China. His government-in-exile says 99 people died when Chinese security forces moved to quell the riot.

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