Paris Plans Charm Offensive on China After Protests

Katrin Bennhold reports in the International Herald Tribune:

After a wave of anti-French protests in China, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France is sending three top officials there this week in a diplomatic charm offensive aimed at limiting the political and economic fallout from the controversy surrounding the preparation of the Olympic Games.

The president of the French Senate, Christian Poncelet, headed for Shanghai on Monday, to be followed by former Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin on Thursday. On Friday, it will be the turn of Sarkozy’s chief diplomatic adviser, Jean-David Levitte, to reassure the Chinese leadership that France has no intention to strain relations.

At the same time, however, the mayor of Paris has announced that the city will name the Dalai Lama an “honorary citizen,” a move that is sure to anger the Chinese government. From The Australian:

The decision will “pay tribute to a champion of peace, a tireless advocate of dialogue between peoples,” said Socialist Mayor Bertrand Delanoe who made the proposal that is expected to win majority approval.

“Paris also wants to show its support for the people of Tibet who are defending their most basic right to dignity, freedom and simply life,” said the mayor.

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