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Dalai Lama's Envoys to Arrive in Beijing Thursday

October 31, 2008

The Associated Press
October 30, 2008

DHARMSALA, India: Two envoys of the Dalai Lama will arrive in Beijing
on Thursday to meet with Chinese officials, a Tibetan official said,
just days after the Tibetan spiritual leader said it was time
Tibetans rethink their strategy for engaging China.

The envoys, Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, will be in Beijing for
about a week, said Thupten Samphel, spokesman for the self-proclaimed
Tibetan government-in-exile in the northern Indian hill town of Dharmsala.

The last formal talks between the envoys and Chinese officials, the
seventh since 2002, ended in an impasse in July, with China demanding
that the Dalai Lama prove he does not support Tibetan independence
and disruption of the Olympics.

China has governed the Himalayan region since communist troops
occupied it in the 1950s.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India amid a failed uprising in 1959, has
followed a "middle way" approach with China, which means he wants
some form of autonomy that would allow Tibetans to freely practice
their culture, language and religion.

But over the weekend, he said at a public function in Dharmsala that
he had "been sincerely pursuing the middle way approach in dealing
with China for a long time now but there hasn't been any positive
response from the Chinese side."

"As far as I'm concerned, I have given up," he said in an unusually
blunt statement.

The announcement of new talks come as Tibetan officials in India have
said that the Dalai Lama has called a special meeting of Tibetan
exile communities and political organizations to discuss the future
amid foundering talks with China.

The five-day gathering, scheduled for mid-November, could mark a
significant shift in the Tibetan strategy for confronting Beijing.

Relations have been particularly tense this year. In March, peaceful
demonstrations against Chinese rule in Lhasa exploded into violence.
Beijing says 22 people were killed in the riots, in which hundreds of
shops were torched and Chinese civilians attacked.

China then launched a massive crackdown in Tibet and a broad swath of
Tibetan areas in the country's west regions. Tibetan exile groups
said at least 140 people died. More than 1,000 people were detained,
although human rights groups say the number could be higher.

After the last meeting, Lodi Gyari had said Chinese officials were
not serious about resolving the Tibetan issue and, unless they
changed, future talks were "almost pointless."
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