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French Senate President conveys Sarkozy's sympathy note to Chinese torch bearer

2008/04/21

 

French Senate President Christian Poncelet (L) reads President Nicolas Sarkozy's sympathy note to Chinese torchbearer Jin Jing (front R) in Shanghai, east China, April 21, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)

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    SHANGHAI, April 21 (Xinhua) -- Visiting French Senate President Christian Poncelet made a special trip to meet with Chinese torchbearer Jin Jing upon his arrival in Shanghai Monday morning.

    Poncelet also conveyed President Nicolas Sarkozy's sympathy note to Jin Jing, a wheelchair-bound fencer who was attacked during the Olympics torch relay in Paris.

    "I would like to express to you my deep feeling towards the way you were shoved in Paris on April 7 when you were holding the Olympic flame. You showed an outstanding courage, which honors you, and (through you) all your country," Sarkozy was quoted as saying in the letter.

    On April 7, the torch relay in Paris was interrupted many times. The most notable incident was that several supporters of "Tibetan independence" rushed toward Jin Jing and tried to snatch the torch.

    "I understand that the Chinese people's feelings were hurt by what went on that day, and especially by the intolerable attack you suffered and which I condemn with the utmost force," Poncelet read from President Sarkozy's letter.

French Senate President Christian Poncelet (front L) hands over President Nicolas Sarkozy's sympathy note to Chinese torchbearer Jin Jing (R) in Shanghai, east China, April 21, 2008. (Xinhua Photo)

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    "What happened in Paris on April 7 has engendered a feeling of bitterness in your country. I want to assure you that the incidents that were brought about by a few people on this sad day don't reflect the feelings of my fellow countrymen for the Chinese people," the letter says.

    Sarkozy also invited Jin Jing to come to France in the near future as his personal guest as well as French people's guest, in a bid to erase that "painful moment".

    Poncelet's special visit was made amid China's growing anger with France mainly due to the disruption of the torch relay by Tibetan secessionists during the chaotic Paris leg.

    Calling upon Jin Jing at Shanghai Disabled Persons' Sport Training Center, Poncelet hugged and kissed the girl, who was honored by the Chinese as a "smiling wheel-chaired angel".

    He told reporters that to call on Jin Jing is the shared wish of all his delegation members, coming from various parties of France and representing all the French people.

    Regarding his current China trip as at a sensitive moment, Poncelet said the French people were astonished by the attack Jin suffered in Paris, which not only hurt the Chinese but also the French.

    "Although something unhappy happened, we should make efforts to strengthen the Sino-France friendship," he added.

    After reading Sarkozy's letter, the grey-haired Poncelet presented Jin with a bouquet of lilies, wishing her greater achievements in future sports competitions.

 

Jin Jing was attacked during the Olympics torch relay in Paris.(Xinhua Photo)

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Jin Jing was attacked during the Olympics torch relay in Paris.(Xinhua Photo)

    "To protect the torch is what every Chinese and every athlete is ready to do. When I joined the torch relay in Paris, I not only passed on the Olympic flame, but also the Chinese people's friendship with the French," said a smiling Jin.

    She said she was very glad to be invited by President Sarkozy to France, adding she hopes to contribute her own efforts to cementing the Sino-France friendship.

    The 27-year-old Jin also wished French athletes excellent performances at the Beijing Olympics and Paralympics, and a happy stay in Beijing.

    "We Chinese people will certainly welcome French people and athletes to China with a tolerant, friendly and passionate attitude," she said.

    Poncelet is paying his third China trip as French Senate president from April 21-27, at the invitation of Chinese top legislator Wu Bangguo.

    "We believe the Beijing Olympics would be a successful Olympic Games. The French people expect its complete success. Every one of us should exert efforts for that," Poncelet said.

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