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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

(Blog) China: Ready to Talk, Not Ready to Listen

July 7, 2008

Tibet - China meeting
Agams Gecko (Blog)
July 05, 2008

Tibetan diplomatic team returned to Dharamsala on Friday, fresh from
another round of "talks" with representatives of the Chinese
government. While hopes were high that this "official" round might
produce some signs of progress after the last "informal" meeting in
early May made no progress at all (marked by constant demonization of
Dalai Lama in Chinese state-run media before, during and after it),
any amateur CCP-watcher could almost predict with certainty what
would happen this time.

Of course, the Chinese government through its Party mouthpieces kept
up its lying vilification campaign -- before, during and after this
meeting too. I use scare quotes around "talks" because such a term
normally implies that listening is also going on. It's clear from
what is known of these events that, while the Tibetan side hears and
addresses the expressed Chinese concerns openly, the Chinese side
simply covers their ears and re-issues their already-fulfilled demands.

I'm beginning to see the Chinese strategy here. Naturally, just
holding these events goes some way to getting the world off its back
on the Tibet issue (progress or no) barely a month before their
treasured Olympic Games are set to begin. But the loony-bin rhetoric
is meant for domestic consumption; that's what the hyper-nationalist
community can't seem to get enough of.

Having actual Tibetans from exile in town -- representatives of the
man they love to hate -- ensures more attention for their unhinged
screeds, more mileage out of the vilification campaign, and more
boost to the CCP's tough guy image. Finding an actual solution to 57
years of absolutely failed policies comes far down on the priority list.

As the meetings were beginning in Beijing, the Communist Party boss
in Tibet, hard-liner Zhang Qingli issued another of his blistering accusations.

"The March 14 incident was a seriously violent criminal incident by
the Dalai clique. The organized and orchestrated incident was created
by Tibetan separatists after long-term preparation, with the support
and instigation of Western hostile forces," Zhang was quoted as saying...

"At a sensitive moment, they harbored the evil intention of turning
the incident into a bloodbath, of disrupting the Beijing Olympics and
destroying Tibet's stability and political harmony," Zhang said.

The next day, Party mouthpiece "editorials" continued the barrage.

"The Dalai Lama has shown no intention of taking a break or
displaying any sincerity in reining in his negative comments on the
Chinese government," the dispatch by the Chinese government mouthpiece said...

"The Dalai Lama should openly and explicitly promise and prove it in
his actions not to support activities to disturb the upcoming Beijing
Olympic Games," the report quoted delegate Du Qinglin as telling the
Tibetan side.

That's Du Qinglin sitting in one of the comfy chairs in the photo above.

There should be no need to remind anyone that Dalai Lama has openly
and explicitly disavowed any and all violent actions (telling his
people he would resign if it happened again - which it hasn't), has
openly and explicitly stated that it is a good thing for China to
host the Olympics, has recognised Chinese pride in the event and
called for that to be respected, has always refers to the Chinese
people as "my Chinese brothers and sisters" (and to Chinese Buddhists
as Tibetans' "elder brothers and sisters"), and has been saying for
at least 20 years that he wishes for a genuinely and mutually
agreeable solution for Tibet and China within the PRC constitution.

The envoys' senior dialogue partner this time was Du Qinglin,
Minister of the Central United Front Work Department and Vice
Chairman of the People's Political Consultative Conference. During
the Tibetans' stay in Beijing, Du was also quoted in mouthpiece media
demanding Dalai Lama to "not support and earnestly restrain the Tibet
Youth Congress' violent terrorist activities." That would be the same
TYC which exemplified the Gandhian philosophy of standing on truth
with strict non-violence, and displaying absolutely peaceful passive
resistance as they were arrested multiple times by Indian police over
the past few months.

The radical Tibet Youth Congress has vowed to use violence and
terrorism to achieve Tibet independence and the Dalai Lama has said
he was unable to influence the group's actions...

"While some 'pro-Tibet Independence' activists claimed their goals
were different from the Dalai Lama, evidence has shown conspiracies
behind all the plots initiated by them were linked," Xinhua said.

Strangely enough, the first part of that last quote isn't a quote at
all, though it reads like Xinhua (or one of the abundant "hard
liners") speaking. Those are the words of Reuters itself, "reporting
the news" (again, strangely enough, this article is available only on
Reuters' China website, a couple of Malaysian reprints, and the Guardian).

Lodi Gyari made a few observations to the media yesterday as the 5
man diplomatic team made their way back to Dharamsala.

"Such baseless accusations make the Chinese government really look
ridiculous in the eyes of the world," Gyari said. "This time they
realized that labelling his Holiness being responsible for the
present disturbances in Tibet and accusing him of sabotaging the
Olympics is something that no one buys."

Gyari called the discussions "one of the most difficult sessions" the
two sides have had, but said they agreed to meet again after the Olympics.

"I told my Chinese counterparts very candidly that if there is not
seriousness on their part it is almost pointless for us to waste each
other's time," Gyari told reporters at the New Delhi airport Friday
before returning to Dharmsala, the base for Tibet's government-in-exile.

The month of October has been mentioned as the time-frame for Round
Eight. How many more Tibetans will have been tortured to death by
that time? Tibetans are continuing to express their aspirations
inside the country nearly four months after all this began in March,
and they continue to die for those expressions (another round-up here
of Tibet events is coming).

After briefing the elected Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister) Samdhong
Rinpoche yesterday, as well as briefing His Holiness and the Speaker
and Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament today, the two envoys
spoke to the press and issued a statement on their trip.

In this context, we had hoped that the Chinese leadership would
reciprocate our efforts by taking tangible steps during this round.
On the contrary, due to their excessive concern about legitimacy the
Chinese side even failed to agree to our proposal of issuing a joint
statement with the aim of committing both parties to the dialogue process.

The Chinese did agree to more talks after the Olympics, but weren't
even willing to sign a joint statement to that effect. They're often
called "pragmatic," but often they just act like babies.

The statement continues:

While the Chinese side finally seems to have realized that their
allegations against His Holiness for instigating the recent events in
Tibet and in sabotaging the Olympics Games have become untenable,
they are now urging His Holiness not to support violence, terrorism,
and sabotaging the Olympics. We stated in the strongest possible
terms that no one needs to urge us on this as His Holiness and the
Tibetan struggle are universally acknowledged and appreciated for
consistently rejecting and opposing such acts. While the Tibetan
Youth Congress does not support the Middle Way Approach of His
Holiness the Dalai Lama and stands for independence of Tibet, we
categorically rejected the Chinese attempt to label it as a violent
and terrorist organization. His Holiness has repeatedly and clearly
stated publicly he is not seeking separation and independence of Tibet.

As I wrote at the top, "talks" are only talks if the other side will
actually listen. The Chinese authorities issue their concerns, the
Tibetan authorities respond honestly that these concerns have been
met. Autonomy not independence, support Beijing Olympics, no to
violence, respect China and her people, all these are long on the
record. The Tibetans issue some concerns, the Chinese say, "You must
answer our concerns first. Dalai (Lama) must stop terrorist activites
to split the motherland and turn Olympics into a bloodbath."

It's almost like, "You must stop beating your wife. Why can't you
stop beating her?"

"But I don't beat my wife, I never beat my wife!"

"Well, we're not going to get anywhere until you admit to your
violent nature and stop doing it. You must stop beating your wife."

That's not an argument, that's being hit on the head lessons. Or it's
just the automatic gainsaying of anything the other person says.
Whatever it is, it's not "talks."

In the course of our discussions we were compelled to candidly convey
to our counterparts that in the absence of serious and sincere
commitment on their part the continuation of the present dialogue
process would serve no purpose.

The Chinese side expressed the view that the dialogue process has
been productive and that we need to keep in mind that a
half-a-century-old issue of great complexity, cannot be resolved in a
matter of years.

Maybe it's been productive for the Chinese side, I can see that. They
get something for nothing -- world off their back, the
hyper-nationalist community praising their toughness with "Tibetan
terrorists," and so on. They offer absolutely nothing in return. It's
not so productive for Tibetans who are continuing to get beaten
bloody in the streets, and behind closed doors.
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