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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

China's New Demands

July 9, 2008

Geoffrey York
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
July 8, 2008

BEIJING -- The Dalai Lama, who celebrated his 73rd birthday
yesterday, remains a hate figure for China's Communist rulers. He is
reviled and despised by every organ in China's propaganda machinery.

But oddly enough, China sometimes agrees to hold talks with the Dalai
Lama's envoys -- and, even more mysteriously, the Western world seems
to think that those talks might actually make progress on solving the
Tibet problem.

In reality, the talks have been happening annually since 2002 without
making any substantial progress at all. If you want to understand the
pointlessness of those talks, consider what Beijing unveiled today as
its latest "concession" to the Dalai Lama.

The Chinese media are proclaiming it as an example of China's
"goodwill" to the exiled Tibetan leader. But the supposed concession
is so mind-bogglingly arcane that it is difficult even to explain it.

China's state news agency, Xinhua, summarizes it this way: Instead of
demanding "three stops" from the Tibetan leader, China is merely
demanding "four no-supports." Got that? Confused yet?

Here's what it means. Under the policy of "three stops," China
insisted that the Dalai Lama must stop his "splittist" activities,
stop "plotting and inciting" violence, and stop "disrupting and
sabotaging" the Olympic Games.

Under the new policy, China is telling him "not to support" those
three alleged activities -- with a fourth activity now added to the
equation, the "violent terrorist activities" of the Tibetan Youth Congress.

So instead of "stopping" his alleged misdeeds, the Dalai Lama must
merely "not support" those same alleged misdeeds, with an extra
allegation tossed onto the list.

According to a Xinhua article, this means that China has
"communicated goodwill" to the Dalai Lama by proposing steps that are
"more practical and more convenient for the Dalai Lama to follow." It
also describes these demands as "simple and rational."

Of course this has failed to bridge the vast gulf between the two
sides. The Dalai Lama's envoys were unimpressed by the new Chinese
demands, since China still refuses to back down from its longstanding
accusation that the Dalai Lama is responsible for supporting
violence, sabotage and terrorism -- all of which he has repeatedly denied.

In a statement on the weekend, the Dalai Lama's envoys said they
"categorically rejected" the Chinese claims about violence and
terrorism. They said they told the Chinese envoys "in the strongest
possible terms" that nobody needs to tell the Dalai Lama to refrain
from violence, since he has consistently rejected violence.

In other words, the gulf between China and the Dalai Lama is as vast
and unyielding as ever.

The two sides have tentatively discussed the possibility of meeting
again in October. But both sides have also made it clear that they
are on the verge of abandoning the talks because they have been so fruitless.
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