Dalai Lama's visit to France 'could hurt ties', warns China

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Beijing, May 28 (ANI): Chinese observers believe an invitation from Paris Mayor Bertrand Delanoe to Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, could derail Sino-French relations.

Delanoe's spokesman, Laurent Fary, confirmed that the mayor has invited the Dalai Lama to Paris in early June to collect the title of honorary citizen of the city, which he was awarded in 2008.

Earlier this month, Beijing urged Paris not to interfere in China's internal affairs by meeting the Dalai Lama.

The French foreign ministry played down the significance of the invitation, saying it was made independently by the city and "should have no impact on the caliber of our relations with China".

But Wu Baiyi, an expert on European studies with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the China Daily that Paris, as part of France, is obliged to coordinate its acts according to a communiqui agreed by the two foreign ministries on April 1 that stated that France fully recognized "the sensitivity of the Tibet issue" and that France would not support "Tibet independence" in any form.

"France will need to act upon the promise as a whole, though political parties in France might take different views," Wu said.

Feng Zhongping, chief of European studies at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, said Paris should be "very careful" with future moves related to Tibet to avoid sparking a renewal of protest in China.

He pointed out that Sino-French relations were dampened after French President Nicolas Sarkozy met the Dalai Lama in Poland last December. The relationship did not get back on track until early April. (ANI)

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