CHINA> National
Honor for Dalai Lama 'political stunt'
(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-06-09 07:22

Socialist Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delanoe engaged in "a full political stunt" when he met the Dalai Lama and bestowed upon him honorary citizenship of the French capital, Chinese experts said.

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On Sunday afternoon, Delanoe hosted the Dalai Lama at a ceremony in Paris, despite objections from China.

The step irked Beijing at a time when relations between France and China had just begun to thaw, Reuters reported.

However, French President Nicolas Sarkozy distanced himself from the meeting, describing it as "a municipal matter", not "an act of state", according to BBC.

Wu Baiyi, an expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), said the complexity of politics in France resulted in inconsistent behavior between politicians in the national government and those in the capital city.

The Socialist Party, which Delanoe represents, was the main opposition to Sarkozy in the 2007 presidential election.

"The Sarkozy government has distanced itself from Delanoe's meeting with Dalai Lama as it learned the lesson from the last Sino-French relationship crisis, but Sarkozy could do little about Paris City Hall's decision," Wu said.

Zhao Junjie, an expert in European studies with the CASS, said Delanoe, as a Socialist Party member, met the Dalai Lama to "intensify the competition with the opposite party" and "played the political stunt to its full", risking hurting Chinese people's feelings.

The Foreign Ministry yesterday condemned Paris city government's move.

"The behavior ... 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," it said in a statement.