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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Dalai Lama envoys meet with China

January 28, 2010

Special envoys for The Dalai Lama, the exiled
Tibetan spiritual leader, have arrived in Beijing
for a ninth round of talks with the Chinese
authorities over the political status of the Himalayan region.
By Peter Foster in Beijing
The Daily Telegraph, London
January 26, 2010

Although the British and US governments welcomed
the talks -- the first since November 2008 --
Tibetan campaigners said they expected little
progress in narrowing the gulf that separates the two camps.

China has toughened its approach to Tibet since
the region was convulsed by anti-government riots
in March 2008, expanding campaigns of
"re-education" and repeatedly dismissing the
Dalai Lama as a "separatist" and "splittist".

The dialogue, which is expected to last several
days, comes shortly before President Barack Obama
is due to meet the Dalai Lama in a move that
Beijing has said will put further strain on
already turbulent relations with Washington.

"The United States strongly supports dialogue
between China and the Dalai Lama's
representatives to address long-standing
differences," the State Department said in a statement.

"The administration hopes this meeting will
produce positive results and provide a foundation
for future discussions to resolve outstanding issues."

Last week, after a high-level meeting attended by
both Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao, China put forth a
new five-year plan promising "leapfrog
development" for the Tibetan region in the hope
that economic improvements will bring political stability.

The talks follow from a previous round in
November 2008 at which the Tibetan side presented
a memorandum outlining its vision for "meaningful
autonomy" for the region, which the Dalai Lama
has sought since 1959 when he fled to India after
a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

The document was summarily rejected by China,
according to the Tibetan envoys who quoted
China's Executive Vice-Minister Zhu Weiqun as
saying: "Even the title of your memorandum is
unacceptable. How many times do we need to say
that the Dalai Lama has no right to speak about
the situation in Tibet or in the name of the Tibetan people?"

British Tibetan campaign groups said they had
little reason to believe that the Chinese
position had changed and called on the British
government to put more pressure on the Chinese to negotiate in good faith.

"Hu Jintao's recent hardline rhetoric, and the
recent significant hardening of Tibet policy,
questions the sincerity of China's commitment to
renewed talks," said Stephanie Brigden, director of the Free Tibet.

"The international community including the
British government must push their Chinese
counterparts to ensure that the negotiation
process is substantive and meaningful, and that
it delivers positive outcomes for the Tibetan people."

According to a statement from the Tibetan
government in exile in the Indian hill station of
Dharamsala, the envoys met the Dalai Lama January
22 in advance of their trip to Beijing and were
expected to return to India in early February.

China said it hoped that the Dalai Lama would
"cherish" the opportunity to talk. "At the
request of the Dalai Lama, the relevant agencies
of the central government arranged for the
private representatives of the Dalai Lama to
visit China and have consultations," said the
foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

"We hope the Dalai Lama will cherish this
opportunity and respond positively to the
requests of the central government," he added,
declining to answer further questions on the matter.
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