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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."

China responds to talk of a Tibetan homecoming for Dalai Lama

October 13, 2014

New York Times, October 9, 2014 - China has cast doubt on the possibility of a homecoming for the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, following comments from the Dalai Lama and a Chinese official in Tibet that a visit had been informally discussed..

“What he needs to do is not make a so-called return to Tibet but give up his position and conduct on splitting China,” Hong Lei, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said of the Dalai Lama at a regular briefing Wednesday, Agence France-Presse reported. “This will do good for him.”

The Dalai Lama, 79, has said he is interested in returning to Tibet and visiting Wutai Shan, a mountain in the north-central Chinese province of Shanxi that is sacred to Buddhists. “It’s not finalized, not yet, but the idea is there,” he said in an interview with AFP from Dharamsala, the north Indian town where the Dalai Lama has been based since fleeing China in 1959. The discussions were being handled “not formally or seriously, but informally,” he added.

In August, the deputy Communist Party secretary for Tibet told a group of visiting journalists from India that envoys of the Dalai Lama had discussed the possibility of his return with the Chinese authorities.

Robert Barnett, director of the modern Tibetan studies program at Columbia University, said that statements from China and the Tibetan exile community about the Dalai Lama’s possible return should be seen in the context of long-running dialogue between the two sides.

“When you see these statements from either side, it’s useful to think of them as a form of negotiation,” he said. “These are people sitting around a table prodding each other, pushing each other to try and squeeze a concession out of the other side, and it’s been going on for years.”

China and representatives of the Dalai Lama had nine rounds of talks from 2002 to 2010, but there have been no formal negotiations since then. Before 2002, there had been a nine-year gap without talks.

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