Stereotypes get their force because they are based in at least partial truth. The joke about European heaven being a place where the French are the cooks and the Germans are the engineers is one example of a stereotype that rings true. The joke about European hell being a place where the French are the engineers and the Germans the police an example of a stereotype that doesn't work.
French President Nicholas Sarkozy is going to the Olympics in China. The country of Napoleon has not even a Napoleonic complex today. The Chinese are developing a reputation for bullying. President Sarkozy has been vague about whether he intends to meet with Tibet's Dalai Lama. China has warned of "serious consequences" to relations between the two nations should the meeting occur. And so, two stereotypes meet.
President Sarkozy is a conservative on the French political scale and got elected as a pro-American. There's a presumption of a certain fortitude there. To this American, there is not even fortitude required of the French president here, merely self-respect, for himself and his country. That is to say he should meet with the Dalia Lama now even if he was ambivalent before.
France has a different reputation for fortitude however and here is one American who doesn't want to see that French reputation reinforced in this minor standoff.