China has been forced to pull out of a summit with the European Union (EU) because French President Nicolas Sarkozy's decision to meet the Dalai Lama concerns China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as the country's core interests, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said on Friday.
The summit was planned for Monday in Lyon, France, which currently holds the EU's rotating presidency.
European and Chinese leaders were scheduled to discuss trade issues and the reforming of global financial regulations at the summit.
"China has paid great attention to the summit and was actively preparing for it" when Sarkozy made a "high-profile" announcement to meet the Dalai Lama. This has made the Chinese government and people strongly dissatisfied, Qin said in a statement.
To safeguard Sino-French and Sino-EU relations, the Chinese side has repeatedly asked the French side to properly handle issues concerning Tibet.
The Chinese side has asked France to prevent such issues from disrupting the planned meeting between Chinese and EU leaders, Qin said.
"It is regretful that Paris has failed to respond positively to China's sincerity and efforts in this regard, thus damaging the atmosphere for the summit," he said.
"Under such circumstances, China has no other choice but to put off the summit. And China should bear no responsibility for the current situation."
The meeting of Chinese and EU leaders will depend on the practical measures France will take to create the necessary conditions and atmosphere, Qin said.
China resolutely opposes any foreign leaders meeting the Dalai Lama. "This is a position we have made clear to the French side repeatedly," he said.
Qin expressed hope that France would keep its promise, respect and properly handle China's concerns over its sovereignty and territorial integrity.
At a news conference on Thursday in Beijing, Qin also criticized Sarkozy for his decision to meet the Dalai Lama.
"Since France has major interests in China and since the French leader repeatedly says he takes China as a major strategic partner, why then is he doing this?" Qin asked.
"This is exactly where we feel confused and where the Chinese government and people express strong dissatisfaction," he said.