Sarkozy acts to calm Chinese anger over torch relay protests

April 21st, 2008 - 5:07 pm ICT by admin  

Paris, April 21 (DPA) In an effort to calm Chinese anger over the tumultuous passage of the Olympic torch in Paris, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has sent a letter to one of the torch relay runners, a disabled female Chinese athlete, French media reported Monday. “I wish to tell you that I was shocked by the attacks you were subjected to on April 7 in Paris,” Sarkozy wrote to Jin Jing in a letter delivered to her Monday in Shanghai by French senate president Christian Poncelet.

“It is understandable that the Chinese people were hurt, and I firmly condemn (those acts),” the French president wrote.

Jin Jing, a 27-year-old Para-Olympics fencer who lost her leg to cancer as a child, became a heroine in China after pictures were flashed around the world showing her protecting the torch from pro-Tibetan demonstrators from her wheelchair.

The torch was extinguished at least twice during its relay in Paris, and the relay itself was cut short because of the numerous anti-Chinese incidents along its route.

As a result, pro-Chinese demonstrations have taken place in Paris and China, with protesters in Beijing and other cities targeting outlets of the French retail giant Carrefour.

In an interview with the weekly Journal du Dimanche, Carrefour head Jose Luis Duran said that there had been no “noticeable loss of revenue” at the company’s 112 hypermarkets in China. “But we are taking the situation very seriously,” he said.

So is Sarkozy, who has decided to send former prime minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin and the presidential foreign affairs advisor, Jean-David Levitte, to China to calm bilateral tensions.

Raffarin is scheduled to travel to Beijing on Wednesday to meet with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. He will be carrying a message from Sarkozy addressed to the Chinese leadership.

Sarkozy has urged the Chinese government to open talks with the Dalai Lama and has suggested he could boycott the Aug 8 Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing.

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