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, Dalai Lama's Envoys Eye Fence - Mending Talks

July 2, 2008

By Reuters
June 30, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) -- China is to resume fence-mending talks with
envoys of Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on Tuesday
in a move that could burnish its international image weeks before the
capital hosts the Olympics.

It would be their second closed-door meeting since rioting erupted in
Tibet in March and heaped international pressure on China to deal
with the Nobel laureate, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after
an abortive uprising against Chinese rule.

The talks were expected to be shrouded in secrecy with the venue and
the agenda unknown.

Tibet's government-in-exile said the two-day talks would open in
Beijing on Tuesday, but the Chinese Foreign Ministry and the cabinet
spokesman's office declined to confirm or deny the dates.

"The Dalai Lama has instructed the envoys to make every effort to
bring about tangible progress to alleviate the difficult situation
for Tibetans in their homeland," said a statement from the
government-in-exile, based in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala.

The current round of talks, the sixth since 2002 and delayed by three
weeks in the wake of China's deadliest earthquake in three decades,
was preceded by a glut of goodwill, arguably somewhat more from the
Dalai Lama's side than from China's.

During a trip to Britain in May, he said he was willing to attend the
August 8-24 Beijing Olympics if talks between his envoys and China
yielded results. He did not elaborate.

But a Chinese source with ties to the leadership told Reuters an
Olympic invite for the Dalai Lama or a summit with President Hu
Jintao was out of the question unless Hu can mollify conservatives in
his ruling Communist Party.

The Dalai Lama says he wants autonomy for the Himalayan region. But
China is unconvinced and brands him a separatist.

He extended an olive branch to China praising the Chinese for their
handling of the aftermath of the tremor which left a trail of death
and destruction in the southwestern province of Sichuan.

The quake killed about 70,000 people and put but China at the
receiving end of international sympathy after a period of
vilification over a post-riot crackdown in Tibet.

Anti-Chinese protesters had disrupted the international leg of the
Olympic torch relay and Chinese studying or living abroad staged
counter-protests after China blamed followers of the Dalai Lama for
instigating the March violence -- a charge he denies.

The Dalai Lama held a prayer meeting for Chinese quake victims in
Dharamsala on June 4 and his envoys visited the Chinese Embassy in
London to express their condolences.

"There has been an unprecedented amount of confidence measures in the
past two months," said Laurence Brahm, an American author and
interlocutor between Beijing and Dharamsala.

The government-in-exile has urged Tibetans to stop protesting outside
Chinese embassies and consulates worldwide.

In a concession, Chinese authorities have freed many Tibetans
detained in the wake of the rioting, a source with knowledge of the
releases said, requesting anonymity.

Chinese authorities also reciprocated the Dalai Lama's goodwill by
reopening Tibet to foreign tourists last month.

Mainstream media have not parroted diatribes by Tibet's notoriously
hardline Communist Party boss Zhang Qingli, who said the Dalai Lama
had the "face of a man but the heart of a beast."

"We have an ambience moving in a positive trajectory," Brahm said.
"If it continues, we can hope for a successful round."

(Editing by Jerry Norton)
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665
Developed by plank