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"Canada can, within a positive friendly atmosphere, ask the Chinese government to resolve the Tibetan situation."

Review & Outlook: Talking to Tibet

July 6, 2008

The Wall Street Journal (USA)
July 4, 2008

After the violence this spring in Tibet, countries around the world
beseeched China to hold talks with the Dalai Lama's envoys. At long
last those talks took place on Tuesday and Wednesday in Beijing. But
instead of progress, we're starting to see the limits of Beijing's
approach of demanding more concessions while granting none itself.
The tack is only emboldening Tibetan extremists.

This week's talks are typical of the pattern in place since formal
dialogue began in 2002: While meeting with the Dalai Lama's envoys,
Chinese leaders simultaneously renew their verbal attacks against
him. Zhang Qingli, the Communist Party leader in Tibet, shared this
gem on Wednesday: The Dalai "clique," he said, incited the March
violence with "the evil intention of turning the incident into a
bloodbath, of disrupting the Beijing Olympics and destroying Tibet's
stability and political harmony."

This might be normal patter for Party leaders, but it's no way to
telegraph seriousness about the talks. Contrast it with the Dalai
Lama's approach. Over the past 30 years, he has modulated his
position to the point where he now advocates autonomy, not
independence, for Tibet. More recently he has expressed his support
for the Beijing Olympics, and held a prayer ceremony for victims of
the Sichuan earthquake last month.

But he can't express goodwill to a stone wall indefinitely. Already
his moves have earned him criticism from Tibetan extremists, of whom
there are a growing number. They view such moderation as a sellout.
"No amount of begging, pleading or further negotiating with Beijing
will bring any resolution, even a little improvement, to this
crisis," wrote prominent activist Jamyang Norbu on his blog in May.
"The exile government must declare that . . . the Tibetan government
is compelled to reconsider its Middle Path policy."

For these segments of Tibetan society, the rhetorical intransigence
on display from Beijing this week is a sign the Dalai Lama has been
mistaken all along to negotiate, let alone propose concessions. These
are the same people Beijing must pacify to prevent repeats of the March riots.

Beijing needs to show it's negotiating in good faith. It could start
by ending verbal attacks on the Dalai Lama and beginning a public
investigation into the policy failures that resulted in the riots in
March. Otherwise it risks fanning the flames of the very independence
movement of which it is so afraid.
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