He Yafei, China’s vice foreign minister, said Sarkozy’s meeting “grossly interfered in China’s internal affairs and undermined the political foundations of Sino-French and Sino-European relations”.
“This wrong action harmed the bilateral political trust, all round co-operation, and bright future, hard won in the 45-year establishment of Sino-French relationship,” He said.
Liu Jianchao, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman, also expressed concern, saying it was up to France to repair ties.
In advance of the Sarkozy-Dalai Lama meeting, Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign minister, had said: “We cannot have France’s conduct dictated to, even by our friends.”
Sarkozy had sought to head off the anticipated fury from Beijing, saying: “There is no need to dramatise things.”
However, momentum had already sparked a round of online anger, including some calling for boycotts of French goods.
“I am using my real name to swear to the French: I am going to boycott French goods for my whole life. I will never use French brands or any product made in France,” said one internet poster, who identified himself as Yan Zhongjie.
Although there is a large French presence in China, including companies such as hypermarket chain Carrefour, China has a trade surplus with the European nation and antagonising key partners during a global slowdown could be risky.
China has argued that the Dalai Lama is seeking full independence, something he dismissed on Friday as a “totally baseless” claim.
“When China becomes more democratic, with freedom of speech, with rule of law and particularly with freedom of the press, … once China becomes an open, modern society, then the Tibet issue, I think within a few days, can be solved,” the Dalai Lama said.
Addressing the European parliament in Brussels on Thursday, he said China lacked the moral authority to be a true superpower.
Wango Bashi, the head of France’s Tibetan community, told radio France-Info that the meeting between Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama is “a very strong signal” for Tibetans and their country “where the situation nearly resembles that of martial law”.