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Chinese groups protest Dalai honor
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More than 30 Chinese organizations in France have sent letters of protest to the mayor of Paris, criticizing his plan to honor the Dalai Lama, said Chen Shengwu, chairman of the Chinese Immigrants and Expatriates Association in France.

"We strongly protest against the Paris mayor's meeting with the Dalai Lama, a move likely to derail Sino-French ties again," Chen said, adding that the rekindled relationship was "hard-won" after it was damaged following a meeting between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and the Dalai Lama last December.

On May 20, Premier Wen Jiabao attended the 11th Sino-EU Summit in Prague, the Czech Republic, which symbolized a return to warmer relations between the two countries.

Last week, despite a protest from China, a spokesperson for the mayor of Paris confirmed the mayor will host the Dalai Lama in the French capital so the city can bestow on him the title of honorary citizen.

Leaders of other European countries have met, or plan to meet, the Dalai Lama while he is touring Denmark, France, Iceland and Poland.

Poland's capital city, Warsaw, made the Dalai Lama an honorary citizen last Thursday.

Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussen and Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller also met him in Copenhagen recently.

Wu Baiyi, an expert on European studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) said the meetings were "dangerous" with possible consequences for ties with China.

Wu said European countries hurt the feelings of many Chinese people when they meet the Dalai Lama.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said yesterday that Beijing remains opposed to "foreign political figures having official exchanges with the Dalai Lama".

Qin said "any irresponsible moves taken by whatever country on this issue will constitute gross intervention in China's internal affairs and will certainly seriously damage China's relations with the relevant countries".

Zhao Junjie, an expert in European Studies with the CASS said the issue is "deeply rooted" in the complexity of the domestic politics of some European countries, where a meeting with the Dalai Lama is often used as "a political stunt".

"The Dalai Lama issue is one of the few issues that some European countries can resort to in a bid to leverage China by imposing the European standard," Zhao said. "But European countries should consider China's stance on the issue and stay away from the Dalai Lama's secessionist activities under any forms of cover."

(China Daily June 3, 2009)

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