- China - Dalai Lama - diplomacy - Paris
AFP - China Monday strongly condemned authorities in Paris for making Tibet's exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama an honorary citizen, saying it was a "grave interference" in Sino-French ties.
"The behaviour of the Paris government... can only create serious damage to cooperation between Paris and relevant cities in China and has created grave interference in relations between China and France," said a statement faxed to AFP by China's foreign ministry.
The Dalai Lama was made an honorary citizen of the French capital on Sunday following a March 2008 decision by the city's council to award him the title.
"The Paris council decided in March 2008 to make this award out of regard for the Dalai Lama's qualities and the fight he is leading for dialogue and peace," Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe told guests at the award ceremony.
The news comes amid shaky relations between China and France.
The two countries have only just patched up ties after French President Nicolas Sarkozy incurred China's wrath for meeting the Dalai Lama in Poland in December, leading Beijing to cancel a key EU-China summit.
China had also warned Paris in May not to make more "errors" on Tibet by conferring the honour on the Dalai Lama.
"We oppose Paris' disregard of the Chinese side, express strong dissatisfaction and firmly oppose its determination to grant the Dalai with the so-called title of 'honorary citizen'," the ministry said Monday.
China accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking independence for Tibet -- a claim he denies -- and regards any official meeting with him as meddling in its internal affairs.
The Chinese foreign ministry acknowledged in its statement Monday that relations with France had recently improved thanks to efforts on both sides.
"We ask Paris to stop any acts of interference in China's internal affairs, to adopt effective measures, immediately rectify its mistake, and avoid going too far on the wrong path," it said.
The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in Dharamsala in India since 1959, when China took full control of Tibet, began a European tour in Denmark last Friday and has also visited Iceland and the Netherlands.