China Shuts Down German Foundation Over Tibet Conference
BEIJING (AP) _ China said today it has ordered a German foundation to cease operations as punishment for hosting a conference in Bonn on Chinese repression in Tibet.
China’s action against the Friedrich Naumann Foundation seemed calculated to pressure Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s government to improve its already close relations with Beijing.
Kohl’s decision early this month to cancel federal funding for the Naumann conference has brought harsh criticism at home. Joschka Fischer, leader of the Greens Party, accused Kohl on Wednesday of showing ``slavish submissiveness″ toward China at the expense of human rights.
China had asked the Kohl government and the foundation to cancel the conference, which runs Friday through Sunday, in part because it is being co-hosted by the Tibetan government in exile, headed by the Dalai Lama.
``The foundation has openly supported the Dalai clique in its activities to split China,″ Foreign Ministry spokesman Shen Guofang said today.
``What’s more, the foundation clings to its erroneous position of interfering in China’s internal affairs by turning a deaf ear to the solemn representations of the Chinese side,″ Shen said.
The government was suspending the State Statistical Bureau’s cooperation with the foundation in addition to putting a halt to its work in China, Shen said. The bureau is the foundation’s official partner, the official link needed for foreign foundations to operate in China.
The foundation organizes seminars and conferences on market economics ``with the goal of promoting democracy and the rule of law,″ spokeswoman Gaby Borgmann said in Bonn.
Borgmann said Chinese authorities went to the Beijing office Wednesday and ordered them not to do any ``political work.″
``We expect that the office will be shut down,″ Borgmann said. ``We will carry out the conference. We will not be put under pressure.″
Shen said ``there are some people in Germany who always tend to do something to interfere in the internal affairs of China, which is very incompatible with the overall development of the relationship between China and Germany.
``We hope the German government will attach high importance to this and take more effective and concrete efforts to prevent the recurrence of such incidents ... so as to save Chinese-German relations from being negatively effected,″ Shen said.
Kohl in his last several trips to China has been given red-carpet welcomes, and the business leaders he has brought with him have signed hefty contracts. Chinese leaders have similarly been given warm treatment in Germany.
China has pressured governments not to support or meet with the Dalai Lama and his representatives.
Tibetans remain largely loyal to the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, despite his 37-year exile and more than four decades of often harsh rule by Beijing.