The Paris city council has named Tibet's exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, and an imprisoned Chinese dissident Hu Jia as honorary citizens.
The action, taken Monday, is likely to further stoke Chinese anger. The city's socialist mayor, Bertrand Delanoe, and his environmentalist allies supported the move. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and his center-right party opposed it.
Earlier Monday, Mr. Sarkozy attempted to reduce tensions with China by sending a letter to a wheelchair-bound Chinese athlete. Jin Jing was forced to defend the Olympic torch during the Paris relay when a pro-Tibet protester attempted to grab the flame out of her hands.
In an apparent attempt to calm Chinese anger, French President Nicolas Sarkozy sent a letter to the athlete Monday, expressing his sympathy.
The incident won Jin Jing fame in China, while also fueling anger among Chinese citizens who accuse France of backing Tibetan separatists.
Thousands of Chinese have demonstrated in several cities in recent days in front of the French supermarket chain, Carrefour. Protesters accuse the supermarket of supporting the Dalai Lama. Carrefour denies the charge.
Chinese protesters also have expressed anger at Mr. Sarkozy's comment that he is considering not attending the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics because of China's crackdown on demonstrations in Tibet.