China condemned on Tuesday Paris's decision to make the Dalai Lama an honorary citizen, warning that the gesture had damaged ties with France just as both nations were seeking to ease bad blood over protests.
Relations between France and China were strained by Tibet protests that disrupted the passage of the Beijing Olympic Games torch through Paris earlier this month.
Angry Chinese citizens have responded by urging boycotts of French goods and companies, especially the retailer Carrefour
As French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chinese President Hu Jintao were seeking to heal rifts by sending envoys to each other, Paris city hall on Monday honoured the Dalai Lama, the exiled Buddhist leader whom China blames for unrest in Tibetan areas.
The Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in 1959, has long called for greater Tibetan autonomy and freedom. He says he opposes violent protest and demands for outright Tibetan independence, but China calls him a hypocrite.
China praised Sarkozy's conciliatory acts but warned that the Paris move would hurt relations with France.
"This act is crude interference in China's domestic affairs and has seriously damaged China-French ties," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said in a statement.
Noting that China was already angry about the protests that dogged the torch relay, Jiang called honouring the Dalai Lama another dangerous signal.
"For the Paris city council to make the Dalai an 'honorary citizen of Paris' now can only be considered as another grave provocation of 1.3 billion Chinese people, including the people of Tibet, and it will further encourage the arrogance of the Dalai and Tibet independence elements."
The Chinese President has sent a former Chinese ambassador to France as a special envoy in a bid to cool tensions with France, Jiang earlier told a news conference. And Sarkozy is also this week sending several officials to Beijing.
Opponents of Chinese rule and policies in Tibet have targeted the Olympic relay around the world, but the Paris protests caused most anger in China after images showed a Chinese wheelchair athlete, Jin Jing, having to shield the flame from protesters.
Thousands of demonstrators have taken to the streets of some Chinese cities in recent days to denounce France and call for a boycott of French goods.
Spokeswoman Jiang praised Sarkozy for writing a friendly letter to Jin, the athlete. But she also warned the French President not to shift on Tibet and the Olympic protests.
Jiang called on Sarkozy and his government to "support the Chinese government in protecting social stability".