Paris move a severe provocation

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-04-23 06:38

The government Tuesday expressed strong discontent over, and resolute opposition to, the Paris city council's decision making the Dalai Lama an honorary citizen, calling it a "severe provocation" against the Chinese.

"The move is a gross interference in China's internal affairs and severely hurts the China-France relationship, especially the friendly relations between Beijing and Paris (which are sister cities)," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement after a regular press briefing yesterday.

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The Paris city council, led by Mayor Bertrand Delanoe's Socialists and the Green Party, approved a resolution on Monday to bestow "honorary citizenship" to the Dalai Lama. French President Nicolas Sarkozy's conservatives opposed the measure.

Paris has recently made a series of hostile gestures toward China, including disruptions to the Olympic torch relay on April 7, when Tibetan "independence" flags were unfurled on the city hall building minutes before the relay began.

Some French people and media, regardless of the reality, have continued to make negative remarks and reports about China, Jiang noted.

She also said the attack on the Olympic torch in Paris seriously hurt the feelings of the Chinese people and impaired Sino-French relations.

"For the Paris city council to make the Dalai Lama an 'honorary citizen' now can only be considered as another grave provocation of 1.3 billion Chinese people, including the people of Tibet, and it will further encourage the Dalai Lama and Tibet independence elements," Jiang said.

China has urged France to take effective measures to get bilateral relations on track, stop conniving and supporting "Tibet independence" and halt interfering in China's internal affairs, she said.

Millions of Chinese have been angered by the biased French media coverage on China and the attack on the Olympic torch in Paris. They have called for a boycott against French companies, especially supermarket chain Carrefour, which has been accused of supporting the Dalai Lama. The company has denied the charge.

Asked to comment on the boycott of Carrefour, Jiang said: "We believe the Chinese people will adopt rational measures to express their patriotism in a legal and orderly manner."

Some 99 percent of Carrefour's 40,000 employees in China are Chinese and 95 percent of the products it sells are made in China, CCTV quoted an unnamed official from the Ministry of Commerce as saying last night.

"Some companies, including Carrefour, have said they are against Tibetan independence and support the Beijing Olympics. We welcome such remarks," the official said.

It was the first positive comment made by the government on the retail giant that has faced protests over the past week.

Jiang announced that former Chinese ambassador to France Zhao Jinjun yesterday wrapped up a five-day visit to France as a special envoy of President Hu Jintao.

During the trip, Zhao held talks with many French political figures including President Nicolas Sarkozy, and delivered a letter from Hu to his French counterpart.

"This is an important diplomatic move and reflects the importance we attach to our traditional friendship," Jiang said.

The spokesperson yesterday also criticized US Undersecretary of State Paula Dobriansky for meeting the Dalai Lama on Monday and her recent comments on Tibet published in the Washington Post, saying such moves are "extremely wrong and irresponsible".

"Rather than denouncing the evil actions of the mobs, the US official has absolved them of blame and targeted the Chinese government and people. What's the intention?"

Jiang urged the United States to stop supporting the secessionist activities of the Dalai clique, so as to avoid damage to Sino-US relations and the image of US itself.

Xinhua contributed to the story

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