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China-Tibet dialogue, Dalai Lama skeptical

October 31, 2008

AsiaNews
October 30, 2008

Meetings resume in Beijing with representatives of the Tibetan leader
in exile. But he has declared that he has no faith in the Chinese
government. The British foreign minister urges China to begin
fruitful dialogue, and recalls the detainees of the revolt, and the
lack of free access to Tibet for diplomats and journalists. A meeting
to discuss Tibetan strategy in November.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Dialogue resumes today between the Chinese
leadership and the envoys of the Dalai Lama, but there is little hope
for progress, partly because of the recent declarations of the
Tibetan leader in exile, who says that he is "distrustful" of the
intentions of the Chinese government.

Tibetan envoys Kasur Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen,
together with three assistants, left Dharamshala this morning for
Beijing, where they will remain for a week. This is the eighth
session of the meetings between representatives of Tibet and China,
and the first after the Beijing Olympics. Precisely in order to avoid
undermining the success of the Olympics, Beijing agreed, before the
games, to resume dialogue with envoys of the Dalai Lama, which had
been broken off for years. For some time, the Dalai Lama has been
calling for cultural and religious autonomy for Tibet, while giving
up on political independence. But Beijing continues to accuse the
Buddhist leader of wanting to divide the country. During the
anti-Chinese demonstrations in Tibet in March, Beijing accused the
Dalai Lama of provoking them, and violently repressed them with
thousands of arrests.

In a comment released last October 28, the Dalai Lama recalled that
last March, the Tibetan people "courageously articulated their
discontentment with - and long-simmering resentment against - the
Chinese government." Instead of facing the crisis and finding
solutions, the Beijing government "accused me of inciting the recent
unrest in Tibet" and "continues to hurl abuse against me." "I have
faith and trust in the Chinese people; however, my faith and trust in
the Chinese government is diminishing."

For the Dalai Lama, the response to this mistrust takes place through
"not remaining silent" on the part of the free world, and the
protection of Tibetan identity, with the introduction of "positive
change inside Tibet."

Before the Olympics, many governments expressed their appreciation of
Beijing's openness to dialogue, but - according to Tibetan activists
- they are still not exerting enough pressure to call for results and
demand the liberation of Tibetan prisoners.

As if in response to this concern, yesterday the British foreign
minister, David Milibrand, published a written declaration in which
he defends the position of the Dalai Lama, saying that the position
of the Tibetan leader (renouncing Tibetan independence) responds
fully to the requests of Beijing, and therefore there are no more
excuses for avoiding dialogue. Milibrand also recalls the situation
of the detainees, and denounces the lack of free access to the region
of Tibet for diplomats and journalists.

But meanwhile, the Dalai Lama must face domestic problems as well.
There are growing divisions between the Tibetan government in exile,
Tibetan refugees, the Tibetan population in Tibet, and the young
people. The first of these are very hopeful for dialogue with
Beijing; the others are skeptical; the young people want more
radical, even violent tactics. So far, the Dalai Lama has been an
intermediary and reconciling figure for all these positions. In
recent days, he said that this "intermediary" position might need to
be reviewed, and called upon the leadership of the Tibetan government
in exile to organize a meeting with all Tibetans in Dharamshala, to
seek a common strategy. The meeting is scheduled for November 17-22.
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
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