Join our Mailing List

"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China Rejects EU Call for Talks With Dalai Lama as Interference

April 1, 2008

By Ed Johnson

March 31, 2008 (Bloomberg) -- China voiced ``strong dissatisfaction''
with the European Union after the bloc's foreign ministers called on the
government in Beijing to hold talks with the Dalai Lama after three
weeks of unrest in Tibet.

``The Tibet issue is completely China's internal affairs,'' Foreign
Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said yesterday, state-run Xinhua News
Agency reported. ``No foreign countries or international organizations
have the right to interfere in it.''

Tibet's capital, Lhasa, and some Tibetan-populated parts of western
China have been wracked this month by the biggest protests in almost 20
years. Chinese authorities say supporters of the Dalai Lama killed about
20 people and torched hundreds of businesses and homes. Tibet's
government-in-exile accuses Chinese security forces of killing 140
protesters.

Meeting in Brdo, Slovenia, two days ago, the 27 members of the EU
pressed China to begin talks with Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, while
rejecting any boycott of the Olympic Games in Beijing in August.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy last week floated the idea of a boycott
of the opening ceremony as a way of putting pressure on China to offer
more political freedom.

``No one was in favor of a boycott or a boycott of the opening
ceremonies,'' French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said March 29
after meeting with his EU counterparts. ``The Dalai Lama has ruled out
independence, calling only for autonomy, so there's reason to resume
dialogue. The EU very much wants this.''

`Double Standards'

China's Foreign Ministry called on the EU to ``make a clear distinction
between right and wrong, explicitly condemn the violent crimes of
beating, smashing, looting and burning'' and ``avoid taking double
standards,'' Xinhua cited Jiang as saying.

China, which sent troops to Tibet in 1950 and annexed the region a year
later, accuses the Dalai Lama of instigating the riots and trying to
divide the country.

It has rejected the Dalai Lama's repeated assurances, made again at the
weekend, that he is seeking autonomy, not independence, for Tibet.

``We're not seeking separation, but a full guarantee from the Chinese
government on our unique cultural heritage, including our language and
environment,'' the Dalai Lama said at a news conference in the Indian
capital, New Delhi, on March 29. ``I am aware that some Chinese have
also died. I feel for the victims and their families and pray for them.''

Splitting China

As long as the Dalai Lama truly abandons advocating Tibetan independence
and stops activities aimed at splitting China and sabotaging the Games,
the government is willing to hold talks, Jiang said.

``We should not only listen to what he says, but also watch what he
does,'' Xinhua cited Jiang as saying.

The channels for discussions with the Dalai Lama are always open, Xinhua
cited Premier Wen Jiabao as saying yesterday in Vientiane, the capital
of Laos, where he is attending a summit of countries in the Mekong
region. The spiritual leader should use his influence to stop violence
in Tibet, he said.

``The Chinese government is capable of resolving its own problems,'' Wen
said, adding that social order has been restored in the region.

A plane carrying the Olympic flame for the torch relay has left Athens
and is scheduled to arrive in the Chinese capital at 9 a.m. Beijing time
today, Xinhua reported. A welcoming ceremony will be held at Tiananmen
Square, according to the report.

Tibet has a population of 6 million people and more than 120,000
Tibetans live abroad, according to the government-in- exile in
Dharamshala, northern India. Protests have spread to parts of India,
where about 98,000 Tibetans live, and Nepal, home to about 14,000.

Nepalese police baton-charged Tibetan demonstrators rallying outside the
Chinese embassy in the capital, Kathmandu, yesterday, Agence
France-Presse reported. Officers hit protesters with bamboo poles before
dragging dozens into waiting vans, according to the news agency.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ed Johnson in Sydney at
ejohnson28@bloomberg.net.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
Developed by plank