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China 'always open' to Tibet talks

March 15, 2009

Al Jazeera
March 12, 2009

China is willing to talk with the Dalai Lama on the future of Tibet as
long as the exiled spiritual leader abandons his "separatist stance",
the Chinese premier has said.

Speaking at a rare press conference in Beijing on Friday, Wen Jiabao
said that the doors for negotiation were "always open" but it was up to
the Dalai Lama to be sincere in his wish for progress.

"For such contacts and consultations to make progress, what's important
is for the Dalai Lama to have sincerity. Otherwise, no substantive
results can be made," he said.

Speaking to reporters at the end of the annual National People's
Congress Wen also defended China's rule over Tibet, saying it had
brought economic development to the Tibetan people while protecting
their religious beliefs.

 Tibet's Chinese future

 Tibetan communities under pressure

 Fighting to free Tibet
Tibet, he said, was "peaceful and stable" proving that "the policies we
have adopted are correct."

His comments came at the end of a week that marked the 50th anniversary
of a failed Tibetan uprising against Chinese rule.

The anniversary has been an anxious time for China's leaders, eager to
prevent a repeat of protests that swept several parts of Tibet and
neighbouring Chinese provinces last year in the biggest display of
opposition to Beijing's rule in several decades.

In the run up to the anniversary China had deployed thousands of police
and paramilitary forces to the area and banned foreigners and
journalists from the region to in a bid to stifle any outbreaks of unrest.

It was also reported to have cut off mobile phone and internet
communications.

'Hell on Earth'

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On Tuesday, in a speech marking the anniversary of flight into exile,
the Dalai Lama said Chinese rule had made his homeland "hell on Earth".

Wen however rejected the Tibetan spiritual leader's claims, saying the
Chinese government had accelerated "the pace of economic development and
worked to improve the living standards of the Tibetan farmers and herdsmen".

"It is a fact that Tibet's peace and stability and continued progress
have proven that the policies we have adopted are correct."

He said the government would push ahead with what it calls its policy of
opening up Tibet - a policy which critics say is aimed at smothering
Tibetan culture and identity by encouraging migration of ethnic Han
Chinese to the region.

"Tibet will remain committed firmly to the policy of opening up because
this meets the needs of Tibet's own development," Wen said.

Last year, representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government
held three separate rounds of talks but little progress was made.
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