China condemns Paris for honouring Dalai Lama

22nd April 2008, Comments 0 comments

In a statement posted on the foreign minister’s website, China expresses strong dissatisfaction and said the move had hurt relations.

22 April 2008

BEIJING - China on Tuesday condemned a decision by Paris city councillors to make the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama an honorary citizen of the French capital, saying the move had hurt relations.

"China expresses its strong dissatisfaction and resolute opposition" to the honour, foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

"This interferes rudely with China's internal affairs and seriously harms the Sino-French relationship, and in particular the existing friendly ties between Paris and Beijing."

The Chinese reaction came a day after the Paris councillors voted to award honorary citizenship to the Dalai Lama, and follows a series of anti-France rallies across China in recent days, triggered partly by a threat by President Nicolas Sarkozy to stay away from the Beijing Olympic opening ceremony.

In her statement, Jiang singled out anti-Chinese protests during the Paris leg of the torch relay, saying those tumultuous scenes had "hurt the Chinese people's feelings."

"The fact that this moment the Paris city council decides to make the Dalai Lama an honorary citizen can only be seen as a serious challenge to 1.3 billion Chinese including Tibetans," she said.

"China requires that France immediately take effective steps to remove the severely negative impact of its erroneous action."

She said France must "immediately stop supporting 'Tibet independence' and
immediately stop interfering in China's internal affairs and take real action to safeguard Sino-French relations."

Paris lawmakers also voted Monday to bestow honorary citizenship on Hu Jia, a human rights activist who was jailed in China earlier this month on charges of attempted subversion.

Jiang did not comment on this award in her statement.

Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe, who tabled the proposal for the Dalai Lama's citizenship, said the council wanted to "pay tribute to a champion of peace, a tireless advocate of dialogue between peoples".

[AFP / Expatica]

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