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"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?"

Tough language on Tibet despite China talks offer

April 27, 2008

By Nick Mulvenney

XIJIN, China, April 26, 2008 (Reuters) - Chinese media kept up its tough
language on the Dalai Lama on Saturday, a day after a surprise offer of
talks with his envoys, as analysts expressed caution about whether
dialogue would ease tensions in Tibet.

China blames the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism,
for a wave of anti-government unrest throughout its Tibetan areas, and
has vilified him as a separatist bent on independence for Tibet and
disrupting the Beijing Olympics.

"It's too early to tell if the meeting will produce results or is just
for PR purposes in advance of the Olympics," Mary Beth Markey, a
vice-president at the International Campaign for Tibet, said in a statement.

In the report announcing the offer of talks, China's official Xinhua
news agency softened its language, referring to the Dalai "side", rather
than the Dalai "clique", and rather than demanding he "stop splittist
activities" as a precondition, said he must take credible moves to do so.

But despite the subtle changes in the report, other arms of China's
state media kept up their condemnation of the Dalai Lama, who fled into
exile in India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Communist rule.

The People's Daily, the voice of the Communist Party, carried news of
the dialogue offer alongside a separate story that said the Dalai Lama
was unfit as a Buddhist leader.

"The behaviour of the Dalai clique has seriously violated fundamental
teaching and commandments of Buddhism, undermined the normal order of
Tibetan Buddhism and ruined its reputation," the newspaper said.

The Tibet Daily similarly quoted an official repeating China's position
that the Dalai Lama was responsible for the series of protests and was
behind a deadly riot on March 14 in Tibet's capital Lhasa, charges the
Dalai Lama has denied.

"The splittist Dalai clique is the main source of influence over Tibet's
stability. It is the biggest hidden trouble in the stable development of
Tibet; we vow to carry out a resolute struggle!" the report said.

MILITARY CONVOY

Tibet's government-in-exile, which says the Dalai Lama sent a letter to
Chinese President Hu Jintao as early as March 19 offering to send
representatives to help calm the situation in Tibet, said it was
committed to dialogue.

But in a statement from its base in Dharamsala, India, it said the
attacks on the Dalai Lama must stop.

"It is our position that for any meeting to be productive, it is
important for the Chinese leadership to understand the reality and
acknowledge the positive role of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, rather
than indulging in (a) vilification campaign..."

China has poured security personnel into Tibet and ethnic Tibetan parts
of western China to curb the protests and launched political campaigns
to combat pro-independence sentiment.

On Saturday, a convoy of a dozen military vehicles was seen driving
toward Tibet's second city of Shigatse, though there was no sign of
unrest in the area.

Analysts said carrying out crackdowns and offering concessions at the
same time was part of China's strategy.

"All the attacks on him can be seen as pre-negotiation tactics designed
in part to bolster domestic nationalism and at the same time to weaken
his position in any future talks," said Robbie Barnett, a Tibet scholar
at Columbia University.

But, he added, because six rounds of dialogue since 2002 between China
and the Dalai Lama's envoys had yielded no discernible results, Beijing
had used up much of its political capital on the issue.

"It is hard for people to see good intentions behind Beijing's moves,"
he said. (Writing by Lindsay Beck; Editing by David Fogarty)
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