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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."

Let the Dalai Lama come home

July 3, 2008

The International Herald Tribune (France)
July 2, 2008

China's leaders would be making a mistake if they treat this week's
talks with envoys of the Dalai Lama merely as a public relations ploy
to avoid trouble before the August Olympic Games in Beijing.

Their hope would be to avoid protests by Tibetans and to placate
foreign heads of state such as French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who
has said his attendance at the Aug. 8 opening ceremonies will depend
on the progress achieved in the dialogue with the Tibetans.

Beijing's bosses have invested a great deal of effort in staging the
Games, with the obvious intention of demonstrating that they have
succeeded at turning post-Mao China into a thoroughly modernized
great power. But their harsh repression of the Tibetan protests last
March showed the world a different face.

And their insistence on repeating threadbare lies about the Dalai
Lama's "splittist" ambitions - pretending he really wants
independence for Tibet despite his continued calls for limited
autonomy and cultural survival - makes the Chinese leadership look
tellingly insecure.

An ascendant great power confident of its legitimacy would not show
so much fear of the ethical and spiritual influence of the Dalai
Lama. A secure regime would not try to impose on the outside world
the same blatant untruths its propaganda apparatus peddles to a
domestic audience.

Inviting the revered leader of Tibetans to return to his homeland
would do far more for Beijing's image than the most clockwork Olympic Games.

If the Dalai Lama returned to Lhasa a half century after fleeing the
Chinese People's Liberation Army and preached the wisdom of Tibetan
autonomy within China, China's leaders would have a chance of
fostering harmonious relations between Tibetans and Chinese.

That is preferable to waiting for the Dalai Lama to die in exile in
the hope that his people would submit passively to demographic
submersion and cultural extinction.
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