Written apology to Chinese athlete

President sends letter of apology to Chinese paralympian abused by protestors during Olympic torch ceremony.

20 April 2008

Nicolas Sarkozy has written an official apology to the Chinese paralympian abused by protestors as she carried the Olympic torch through the streets of Paris last week.

The letter was delivered to disabled fencer Jin Jing (pictured) by President of the French Senate Christian Poncelet who arrived in China today.

It read: “I want to tell you how shocked I was by the attack you were victim of on April 7 in Paris.

“The courage that you showed gives me a profound respect for you and for your people.

“I can see that the Chinese people were also injured by the attack which I wholeheartedly condemn.”

Mr Poncelet’s visit is part of a wider diplomatic push in China to ease tensions following the Olympic torch relay in Paris.

Former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin will fly to Beijing on Wednesday with a message from Nicolas Sarkozy and ex-President Jacques Chirac.

The president's top diplomatic adviser, Jean-David Levitte, is scheduled to travel to China at the weekend, also with a message from Sarkozy.

Ties between France and China have been strained following the chaotic Olympic torch relay in Paris that saw human rights activists and pro-Tibet supporters take to the streets to protest Beijing's human rights record.

Raffarin, a frequent visitor to China for the past 20 years, is due to meet with Prime Minister Wen Jiabao Thursday.

He will also present a message from Chirac, who recently cancelled a visit to Shanghai to undergo surgery to have a pacemaker implanted.

Last week Sarkozy discussed the recent violence in Tibet with Zhao Jinjun, the special representative of Chinese President Hu Jintao and a former Chinese ambassador to France.

Photo: AFP

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