Brussels, Dec 5: Tibetan spiritual leader, The Dalai Lama, has said that if China wants to be seen as a super power in the 21st century, it has to first acquire and improve its moral authority.
Addressing the European Parliament here, the Dalai Lama said on China: "One important factor is moral authority and that is lacking. Because of its very poor record on human rights and religious freedom and freedom of expression and freedom of the press - too much censorship - the image of China in the field of moral authority is very, very poor."
According to The Times, he said China deserved to be a superpower, given its huge population and economic and military strength. Beijing has raised the specter of trade sanctions against France yesterday in a bid to convince French President Sarkozy not to meet the Dalai Lama.
China has already pulled out of this week's annual summit and business forum with the EU in protest at Sarkozy's plans to see the 73-year-old Tibetan exile in Poland tomorrow at a celebration honouring Nobel Peace Prize winners.
Members of the European Parliament applauded his speech and raised the stakes further by demanding that the issue of Tibet feature on the agenda of future EU/China discussions.
To the annoyance of Beijing the support of MEPs for the Tibetan leader was unequivocal.
"It is our duty to help his holiness the 14th Dalai Lama so that his people have a good future," said Hans-Gert Pöttering, the President of the European Parliament.
"I hope within the near future there will be a summit between the EU and China and of course that the issue of Tibet will be a part of that summit," he added.
In Beijing, a senior official warned France against "an impact on the long-term development of ties."
"France must give sincere consideration to the Chinese concerns and the position taken by China and take real action to improve China-French relations," The Times quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Liu Jianchao, as saying.
He added that China hoped the French would "create positive conditions for developing overall China-French relations and not create an impact on long-term development of ties that would harm the interests of people from the two countries.
China has along labelled the Dalai Lama's plans for his homeland as 'splittist' but the Dalai Lama insists that he has simply sought greater autonomy within the People's Republic of China, his so-called Middle Way.