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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

China Warns France Against Award for Dalai Lama

May 8, 2009

Reuters
May 7, 2009
 
BEIJING, May 7 (Reuters) -- China on Thursday warned France not to grant exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama honorary citizenship of Paris when he visits next month, saying it would only anger the Chinese people.

Last year, China pulled out of an EU summit that France was to host after President Nicolas Sarkozy met the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing brands a separatist.

The relationship between China and France deteriorated after the disruption of the Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay last summer by pro-free Tibet activists incensed many Chinese.

"A year ago, the city of Paris made a decision to make the Dalai Lama a so-called honorary citizen, which made the Chinese people very angry," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told a regular news briefing.

"If the the city of Paris makes him a so-called honorary citizen, it will certainly once again be opposed by the Chinese people. We demand the Paris city government stop all actions which interfere in China's internal affairs and not make the same mistakes again and again on the Tibet issue."

The two countries began to mend relations last month with a joint declaration in which France recognised Tibet as a part of China and both sides agreed to cooperate on tackling the economic crisis.

"We hope the French side ... pushes forward the healthy and stable development of Sino-French ties," Ma added.

Beijing calls the Dalai Lama a reactionary who seeks to split off nearly a quarter of the land mass of the People's Republic of China. It has been using its diplomatic clout to try to block the pro-Tibetan message.

The 1989 Nobel Peace laureate denies the charge and says he seeks only greater rights, including religious freedom, and real autonomy for Tibetans.

The Dalai Lama, together with tens of thousands of exiled Tibetans, has lived in India since he fled Lhasa in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Separately, Ma rebuffed an attempt by a Spanish judge to be allowed to interrogate eight senior Chinese officials about unrest in Tibet last year.

A Madrid judge asked on Tuesday to be allowed to question the officials, including China's defence minister, as part of a probe into the deaths of at least 203 Tibetans and the disappearance or arrest of another 5,972 during disturbances in 2008.

"The March 14 incident was a serious crime of violence, which the Chinese government has the right to handle according to the law," Ma said, referring to the start date of riots in which China says just 19 people died.

"We hope relevant countries abide by international laws and basic principles, and stop supporting forces which seek to split China," he added, declining further comment. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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