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Tibetan Envoy Calls for Talks

October 10, 2008

By EDWARD-MICHAEL DUSSOM, Contributing Writer
Harvard Crimson
October 9, 2008

Emphasizing the vital role the Tibetan people play in China's
"national family," Lodi G. Gyari, special envoy of the Dalai Lama,
called on the Chinese government to participate in bilateral talks
with a sincere desire to reach a solution, in an appearance at the
Kennedy School yesterday.

Tibetan and Chinese officials are preparing to enter the eighth round
of negotiations on the status of Tibetan political authority at the
end of this month. But, with restrained responsiveness from Communist
Party representatives, Gyari expressed concern over whether the
ongoing discussions would lead to an equitable solution.

"In the absence of serious and sincere commitment on [the Chinese]
part, the continuation of the present dialogue process would serve no
purpose," he said.

Gyari has served as the head negotiator for the Tibetan delegation
since talks between the Central Tibetan Authority, headed by the
Dalai Lama, and the People's Republic of China began in 2002. His
continued diplomatic efforts have had some success, but he said
Chinese insistence on the Dalai Lama as a major instigator of
resistance has slowed down the process.

In the wake of several pro-Tibet protests and demonstrations last
spring, Chinese authorities charged the Tibetan spiritual leader with
condoning, even encouraging, violence.

As Gyari noted, Chinese officials were later forced to recognize the
protests as "a strong expression of discontentment" on the part of
the Tibetan people, not the result of an inflammatory religious influence.

But more than a misplacement of blame, Gyari worried that severe
prolongation in discussions would force the aging Lama to live his
remaining days in exile in India. If this were to happen, he said,
"it would take generations for the Tibetan people to forgive the
Chinese policies."

But looking ahead to this month's meeting in Beijing, Gyari was
cautiously hopeful. He projected that, for lack of any fundamental
differences between the Tibetans and the Chinese, cooperation would
eventually lead to a solution in which Tibet self-governance and a
stable Chinese society go hand-in-hand.

Gyari carefully distinguished self-governance from independence, a
goal that the Dalai Lama's 'Middle-Way' policy has never supported.

Attendees included several members of the local Tibetan communities,
some of whom questioned how executive power will be divided between
the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama once an accord is reached.

"Obviously we see Beijing as the central government," Gyari assured,
explaining that as the result of an agreement the government-in-exile
would dissolve. But by allowing the Dalai Lama to continue to speak
as the moral authority for the Tibetan people, he added, China can
grow as "a power that is respected, and not just feared.'
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