The Chinese Embassy in Rome is contesting the Milan city council's plans to bestow honorary citizenship on the Dalai Lama.

The embassy said in a statement that plans to convey the honor on the Dalai Lama "has seriously wounded the feelings of the Chinese people" and would have a negative impact on both bilateral relations and on regional cooperation between Italy and China.

The Dalai Lama is meeting with Milan Cardinal Angelo Scola on Thursday, before speaking with students at the University of Milan-Bicocca, where officials plan to give him a key to the city.

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.