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Destiny of Tibet 'in hands of people'

February 3, 2010

By Xie Yu
China Daily (People's Republic of China)
February 2, 2010

Tibet will stick to its own path with or without
the Dalai Lama, a central government official
said yesterday, noting that the Chinese,
including Tibetans, will decide the future of the region.

The official also warned that a possible meeting
between US President Barack Obama and the Dalai
Lama would further strain Sino-US relations.

He stressed that the central government wants to
"give the Dalai Lama a chance to correct his
mistakes" by keeping the door open for talks with his envoys.

"The Chinese people, including Tibetans, will
decide the future of Tibet," Zhu Weiqun,
executive vice-minister of the United Front Work
Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC)
Central Committee, said at a press conference in Beijing.

He was responding to questions on what would
become of the Tibet autonomous region after the Dalai Lama's death.

Asked if the central government would find a
solution to the Tibet issue more difficult after
the Dalai Lama's death, Zhu replied: "It is not
polite in China to talk about the possibility of
a 75-year-old man passing away. We hope he lives a long life."

The central government hopes the Dalai Lama
settles his affairs while still alive, and does not pass away abroad, he said.

The two sides had "sharply divided" views in the
latest round of talks "as usual", Zhu said.

But he said the talks - at the request of the
Dalai side - "had some upside" as they allowed
both sides know the exact differences and how wide the differences were.

The central government wanted to "give the Dalai
Lama a chance to correct his mistakes" by holding
talks with his envoys, Zhu said.

Asked to comment on the possibility of an upsurge
in violence and terrorist activities after the
death of the Dalai Lama, Zhu told reporters that
he believed most Tibetans living abroad love
peace, like to be in touch with their family and
friends in Tibet, and be part of the region's development.

Tanzen Lhundrup, deputy director of the Institute
of Social and Economic Studies affiliated to the
China Tibetology Research Center, warned that it
is "quite possible" that some extremist forces
abroad may resort to violence or terrorism if the
Tibet issue is not resolved when the Dalai Lama still has influence.

"Since he (the Dalai Lama) claims he does not
seek 'Tibet independence', the Dalai Lama should
put words into practice by, say, curbing such
extremist forces as the 'Tibet Youth Congress'," he told China Daily yesterday.

But Tanzen Lhundrup emphasized that the central
government is well prepared to deal with the post-Dalai Lama era.

Zhu said the talks between the central government
and the Dalai Lama's representatives were not
futile as the central government arranged trips
for the envoys to visit Hunan province to better
understand the country and the regional ethnic autonomy policy.

He said during the previous talks, Lodi Gyari had
presented a "Memorandum from All Tibetans to
Enjoy Genuine Autonomy", in which obscure words
were intentionally used in an attempt to explain
"Greater Tibet" and "high degree of autonomy".

When the memorandum was rejected by the central
government, Lodi Gyari was not pleased, saying he
did not want new talks, Zhu said.

"This time, Lodi Gyari says he wants talks to continue in the future," he said.

Zhu said the improvement in relations with the
Dalai Lama was China's internal affair so
"outsiders have no right to voice any opinion."

But since the last round of talks in 2008, the
Dalai Lama's followers continued to openly
collude with separatist forces to attack the
central government and the CPC, he said.

"They tried hard to destroy the stability of
society in China, slandering and damaging the
image of China, disturbing visits by the head of
state to foreign countries and harming the
sanctity of our nation's territory and
sovereignty," he said. "The Dalai Lama even
openly and repeatedly declared, 'No doubt, I am a son of India'."

The Dalai Lama should realize that some foreign
forces which support him do not help him, but use him, he said.

"Since the armed rebellion in 1959, what did the
Dalai Lama achieve except to be pushed further
and further away from the journey home?"

Zhu also warned yesterday that a possible meeting
between Obama and the Dalai Lama would further hurt Sino-US relations.

There has been widespread speculation that Obama
will meet the Dalai Lama when he visits the
United States in the coming months. The White
House has not publicly confirmed any such meeting.

"If the US leader chooses to meet the Dalai Lama,
that will damage trust and cooperation between
our two countries, and how will that help the
United States surmount the current economic crisis?" asked Zhu.

Xinhua contributed to the story
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