China angry after Dalai Lama becomes Rome citizen

February 11th, 2009 - 4:05 am ICT by IANS  

Rome, Feb 11 (RIA Novosti) China has complained to Italy’s foreign ministry over a decision to make the Dalai Lama an honorary citizen of Rome, saying the decision “offended the Chinese people”.

Tibet’s spiritual leader was made an honorary citizen of the Italian capital Monday by the city’s mayor Gianni Alemanno.

China has blamed the Dalai Lama for the violence in Tibet last March. Beijing says 19 people were killed and 623 injured in the unrest.

“We express strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told a news conference Tuesday. Yu also called Tibet “a matter of sovereignty and territorial integrity” of China.

However, Italy’s foreign ministry has attempted to distance itself from the decision.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has already explained several times to the Chinese ambassador to Italy that the mayors of Italian cities are autonomous and make decisions completely independent from (Italy’s) the government,” a statement issued by Italy’s foreign ministry said. It noted that the Italian government “supports the policy of a united China”.

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