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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Tibetan go-between and brother of Dalai Lama urges continued talks with Beijing

November 21, 2008

The Irish Times
November 20, 2008

China tells Tibetans that any attempt to separate their region is
doomed, writes Clifford Coonanin Dharamsala

GYALO THONDUP, brother of the Dalai Lama and a longtime go-between
with Beijing on Tibetan issues, has made a strong call for continued
engagement with Beijing, despite the failure of talks so far, as
China warned exiles meeting in India against seeking independence.

Chinese leaders told Tibetan exiles gathered this week in the north
Indian hill station of Dharamsala for talks on their future direction
that any attempt to separate the Himalayan region from China was "doomed".

"Unless we can move to the moon, we have to talk to the Chinese.
We're not breaking away, we're not asking for independence, they [the
Chinese] are twisting things," Mr Thondup (80), the Dalai Lama's next
oldest brother and a former chairman of the Tibetan cabinet, told a
briefing in Dharamsala. He rarely appears in public.

He said the current Beijing leadership had backed down on earlier
statements indicating that everything was up for discussion except
independence and explained that this was the reason why talks were in
such difficulty right now.

"People in China are in the dark. I am pleading the case of Tibet and
hoping the Chinese treat us equally. Things are changing, the world
is changing and I have complete faith in the people of China," said Mr Gyalto.

A fluent Chinese speaker, Mr Gyalto has been instrumental in the
exile movement for many years and was involved in setting up the
links between the Tibetan exiles and the CIA in the 1950s.

The special meeting of 500 Tibetan exile leaders continued yesterday
with all-day private talks. They are trying to decide whether to
continue with the Dalai Lama's "middle way" policy, which calls for
greater autonomy for the territory without independence. The
73-year-old spiritual and political leader has grown frustrated over
fruitless talks with China, saying they have failed.

Younger Tibetan exile groups are calling for a more aggressive
approach and seek independence.

The Nobel laureate is in Dharamsala, but is not attending the
meeting, which comes after an uprising in March by ethnic Tibetans
across western China which was aggressively put down by Beijing.

China says 22 people were killed in the unrest, which marked the
biggest challenge to Chinese rule in Tibet in nearly two decades.
Tibetan groups say hundreds were killed during the protests and
subsequent military crackdown.

For China, Tibet was, is and always will be Chinese. It says it
rescued the people of Tibet from enslavement by theocratic rule when
the People's Liberation Army marched on Tibet in 1950.

The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising. The
Chinese have dismissed the talks as meaningless. "Any attempt to
separate Tibet from Chinese territory will be doomed," foreign
ministry spokesman Qin Gang said in Beijing. "The so-called Tibet
government- in-exile is not recognised by any government in the world."

Mr Gyalto has cultivated long links with China, including what he
describes as a friendship with former supreme leader Deng Xiaoping.
He blames the looting of Tibet on pockets of the military and said
the central government was an organ with which the Tibetans could
still negotiate.

Kate Saunders, of the International Campaign for Tibet, described Mr
Gyalto's statement as a strong call for continued engagement with
China. It showed how the exiled leaders were careful not to pre-empt
the outcome of the discussion. "Already, diverse views are evident,
but there is a sense of solidarity and a sense of urgency," she said.

There are about 5.5 million Tibetans in the whole of the China,
including 2.5 million in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, with the
remainder scattered in provinces such as Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan.
About half a million live in exile.

"I've been studying Chinese for 60 years," Mr Gyalto said. "The
leaders are all the same; they have different opinions, but when it
comes to the party line it's difficult for them to take a different approach."
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