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Tibetans cast doubt on China's sincerity

July 8, 2008

By Geoff Dyer in Beijing
The FInancial Times (UK)
July 6, 2008

Tibetan envoys at the weekend accused China of failing to take any
"tangible steps" in last week's talks between the sides and
questioned whether the negotiations had served any purpose.

In an unusually strongly worded statement released on Saturday, Lodi
Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, the Dalai Lama's special envoys at the
talks last week in Beijing, said they had hoped that recent unrest in
Tibet would encourage the Chinese into a more positive approach.

"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 statement said.

Although the Tibetan envoys agreed to attend a further round of talks
in October, after the Olympic Games, the statement added: "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 tone of the comments indicated growing frustration within the
Tibetan ­government-in-exile that the talks were designed only to
reduce international criticism of China. In the aftermath of the
riots and protests in Tibetan areas in March, China has come under
heavy pressure from the US and many European countries to negotiate
with the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

Last week's talks, the ­second round since the unrest, took on extra
significance after Nicolas Sarkozy, France's president, appeared to
link his attendance at the Beijing Olympics to progress in the talks.
The head of the Chinese delegation at the talks said last week that
further progress depended on the Dalai Lama's conduct.

Du Qinglin, head of the United Front Work Department, a Communist
party organisation responsible for liaising with groups outside the
party, said the Dalai Lama should "openly and clearly promise and
through concrete actions not support activities disturbing or
sabotaging the Olympic Games, nor support, plan or incite violent
criminal activities."

However, Mr Du also committed the Chinese side to further
discussions. "The door to dialogue is always open," he said.

While the talks were taking place last week, the leading Communist
party official in Tibet launched another stinging attack on the Dalai
Lama. Zhang Qingli said that the March 14 riots in Lhasa had been "a
seriously violent criminal incident by the Dalai clique." In remarks
published in the Tibet Daily, Mr Zhang said the riot had been
"created by Tibetan separatists... with the support of hostile
western forces." On Thursday, an article released on Xinhua news
agency made new criticisms of the Dalai Lama.
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