BEIJING—French President Nicolas Sarkozy will get a cold public shoulder at the Beijing Olympics if he attends, Chinese state media said on Thursday in a sign of growing irritation over Sarkozy's stance on Tibet.
Sarkozy has said he will decide next week whether to attend the opening of the Games, with his choice depending on how talks go between Beijing and the Dalai Lama's envoys.
China often lashes foreign leaders for meeting the exiled Dalai Lama or criticising its policies in Tibet, which it calls an internal affair. And official newspapers took a swipe at Sarkozy, whose government assumed the rotating presidency of the European Union on Tuesday.
“Chinese people do not want French President Nicolas Sarkozy to attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics,” the Communist Party mouthpiece, China Daily said, citing an Internet survey by Sina.com.cn, a popular local website.
The “survey” that collected over 100,000 responses found that 88 percent thought Sarkozy's comments were “extremely unfriendly”, while a similar number said they would not welcome his attending the opening ceremony, the report said.
“The stance of Chinese Internet users is even more direct–it's not 'Come if you want,' it's basically 'You're not welcome,” said the China Youth Daily.
France has been a focus of Chinese nationalist anger after protesters disrupted the Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay in April, decrying Beijing's policies in Tibet. Many Chinese urged a boycott of French goods and picketed outlets of the French supermarket chain Carrefour.
Sarkozy has said that he believes in dialogue with China and that it would be counter-productive to offend Beijing.
But the upwelling of angry comment in the Chinese state press suggested the French president faces a hostile audience.
“Sarkozy's gesture of setting conditions for his attendance at the Beijing Olympics is an unfriendly move toward China. It shows his immaturity and carelessness as a politician,” said Wu Yikang of the Shanghai Institute of European Studies, according to the China Daily.