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China warns Paris against granting Dalai Lama honorary citizenship

China warned Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoë not to make the Dalai Lama,Tibet's spiritual leader, an honorary citizen of the French capital, saying that the move would meet with "the Chinese people's firm opposition".


AFP - China warned Paris Thursday not to make more "errors" on Tibet amid news the Dalai Lama may be made an honorary citizen of the French capital, just as frosty ties between the two nations had improved.

"If the Paris city government does make this award, it will definitely meet once again with the Chinese people's firm opposition," foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told reporters.

"We urge the Paris side to stop doing things that interfere in China's internal affairs and make no further errors on the Tibet-related issue."

The Dalai Lama is due to visit France from June 6 to 8, amid prospects he may receive the title of honorary citizen of Paris from the mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, who decided to give him the award in April last year.

The move would draw an angry response from China, which opposes any government figure meeting the Dalai Lama, whom it accuses of seeking independence for Tibet after 58 years of Chinese rule.

The Dalai Lama, however, says he only wants meaningful autonomy for the Himalayan region.

The latest tension comes after the two countries had patched up relations following Beijing's anger over President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama in December.

The talks between the French President and Tibet's exiled spiritual leader led China to postpone a key summit with the European Union that would have been hosted by France, which held the rotating presidency at the time.

Ma acknowledged that since then, relations between the two nations had improved.

"With the concerted efforts of people from both countries, bilateral relations have finally returned to a sound and stable development track," he said.

"We hope that France can join us to promote the sound and stable development of bilateral relations."

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