Tuesday, February 10, 2009

China angered by Italian award for Dalai Lama

China on Tuesday expressed its anger at an Italian award for exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama and warned of unspecified consequences in relations, according to a media report.

The Nobel Peace Prize winning Tibetan leader was made an honorary citizen of Rome on Monday for “his international efforts to find a peaceful solution for Tibet and for having affirmed the principles of human rights and peaceful conflict-resolution between nations."

Beijing abruptly cancelled a China-EU summit last year, angry over French President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama."This seriously hurts the feelings of the Chinese people," Reuters reported Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu as saying at a regular news briefing. "We express our strong dissatisfaction and opposition,” she added."We hope Italy pays attention to China's deep concerns and takes immediate, effective measures to remove the negative impact and maintain the healthy, stable development of bilateral ties," Jian said, without saying what steps Italy should take, Reuters reported.

China routinely brands the Dalai Lama as a "splittist", or separatist, seeking separation cession of Tibet from “mainland” China. The Dalai Lama denies the charge, saying he is only seeking greater autonomy, not outright independence for the Himalayan region."Tibet is an inseparable part of China. The Tibet issue is a purely internal one," Jiang reportedly said."He is not a simple religious figure," she added, referring to the Dalai Lama. "He wears a religious signboard, and has for a long time been a political exile engaging in splittist political activities.

"In making the Tibetan leader an honorary citizen of Rome, Mayor Gianni Alemanno said: "We stand by you and strongly demand the full recognition of the autonomy of the Tibetan nation."Rome is not alone in honouring the Dalai Lama during his four-day tour of Europe, which began Sunday. After attending the ceremony at the Rome city hall, Dalai Lama on Monday left for the Italian city of Venice, which will also bestow him with its honorary Citizenship.

On Tuesday, the Nobel peace laureate will be bestowed with the Deutsche Medienpreis (the German Media Prize) in Baden-Baden, for representing "the non-violent struggle for the rights of the Tibetan people."Relations between China and Germany also hit a low after German Chancellor Angela Merkel met with the Tibetan leader at the Chancellery in 2007. It took months for China to forgive Merkel.


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