Officials contest Dalai Lama’s Milan visit
The Chinese Embassy in Rome has strongly protested plans by Milan city council to bestow honorary citizenship Thursday on the Dalai Lama, saying it would have a negative impact on bilateral relations and regional cooperation.
The embassy said in a statement that honoring the Dalai Lama “has seriously wounded the feelings of the Chinese people” and expressed its “strong protest and firm opposition.”
Protests were expected at the University of Milan-Bicocca, where the Dalai Lama was scheduled to speak to students and where officials plan to give him a key to the city. He also was meeting with Milan Cardinal Angelo Scola on the first day of a three-day visit that includes a series of spiritual talks.
China accuses the Dalai Lama of leading a campaign to split Tibet from the rest of China. The Dalai Lama says he simply wants a higher degree of autonomy under Chinese rule.
He said in an interview with the Italian daily La Repubblica that the climate in Tibet “remains extremely grim and repressive, characterized by constant controls of Tibetans, who are denied many basic human rights.”
“Whether they admit it or not, Tibet remains a thorn for China, which wants to play an important role in the world,” he was quoted as saying.