02/10/2009, 00.00
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China objects to Dalai Lama granted honorary citizen status by Rome

Buddhist spiritual leader is comforted in Tibet’s search for autonomy. Beijing threatens actions that might affect its good relations with Italy. Today the Dalai Lama becomes honorary citizen of Venice.
Rome (AsiaNews) – China is angry that the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s spiritual leader in exile, was granted honorary citizenship yesterday by the City of Rome. It warned of possible “consequences”.

“This seriously hurts the feelings of the Chinese people,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a regular news briefing. “We express our strong dissatisfaction and opposition.”

“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,” she added.

Jiang repeated that for China the Dalai Lama “is not a simple religious figure,” but “has for a long time been a political exile engaging in separatist political activities” in favour of Tibet independence.

A few months ago Beijing abruptly cancelled a China-EU summit, angry over French President and then EU rotating President Nicolas Sarkozy's meeting with the Dalai Lama.

Yesterday the Dalai Lama was awarded honorary citizenship in Rome’s Campidoglio, seat of the city government. In the Giulio Cesare (Julius Caesar) Hall, Rome Mayor Gianni Alemanno said that the award is a symbol of “our moral rejection of injustice, violence and oppression.” It is “a moral revolt in defence of the identity of nations.”

“We stand by you and strongly demand the full recognition of the autonomy of the Tibetan nation,” the mayor added, albeit within the “territorial integrity” of China.

More conciliatory the Dalai Lama stressed again his option for “non violent action” which he will pursue “until death”.

He noted that for many Tibetans their situation is dramatic; things are ready to explode, but urged them to remain patient and choose peace.

Starting last 18 January China has launched another harsh anti-Tibetan crackdown. About 6,000 people are said to have been arrested since then.

After his award the Dalai Lama left the Italian capital on his way to Venice. In the city of Marco Polo he will also be granted honorary citizenship.

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See also
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Not only Milan: "The Dalai Lama is now a stateless person throughout the world"
Beijing imposes harsh sentences on Tibetan monks and lama
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Dalai Lama retiring from administrative, not religious duties


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