Dalai Lama's Rome citizenship award irks China

10th February 2009, Comments 0 comments

China warns of possible damages to ties with Italy after Rome conferred honorary citizenship on Tibet’s spiritual leader.

BEIJING – China warned of possible damage to ties with Italy on Tuesday after the city of Rome granted honorary citizenship to the Dalai Lama.

"We express strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters.

"We hope the Italian side takes seriously China's concerns and takes effective measures immediately to eliminate the negative impact and safeguard the sound development of bilateral relations."

Jiang did not specify what measures China expected Italy to take.

Rome conferred honorary citizenship on Tibet's spiritual leader on Monday during a ceremony in the Italian capital, according to a statement on the city's official website.

Rome's city council in September adopted a motion conferring the title of honorary citizen on the Dalai Lama as an advocate for human rights and for "his international efforts to bring about a peaceful solution for Tibet".

The Dalai Lama has lived in exile in Dharamshala since he fled Tibet in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

China considers him a separatist agitating for independence for his Chinese-controlled Himalayan homeland and issues strong protests whenever he meets with leaders overseas or is accorded an official welcome of any kind.

The Dalai Lama denies he is seeking independence, saying he only wants an end to Chinese cultural oppression in Tibet.

[AFP / Expatica]

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