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ICT press release: 9th round identifies elements to build upon

February 3, 2010

International Campaign for Tibet
February 2, 2010

ICT Press Release

The International Campaign for Tibet welcomes the
strong and detailed statement issued today by
Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, the Special Envoy of His
Holiness the Dalai Lama and chief interlocutor
with Chinese officials during nine rounds of
dialogue since 2002. Lodi Gyari and envoy Kelsang
Gyaltsen briefed the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala,
India this morning before issuing the statement
which concluded that "we do not see any reason
why we cannot find common ground on these
issues." The statement included a proposal for "a
common effort to study the actual reality on the
ground, in the spirit of seeking truth from facts
[to] help both the sides to move beyond each
others’ contentions" and an appeal to Beijing to
stop mislabeling the Dalai Lama as a "separatist."

"Those long troubled by the situation in Tibet,
both inside and outside of government, have been
looking for ways to work constructively with the
Chinese and Tibetans to secure an end to
repression, genuine stability and a better way
forward in Tibet. According to the Tibetan
statement, this 9th round has produced some
elements to build on," said Mary Beth Markey,
Vice President for International Advocacy at the
International Campaign for Tibet. "The reference
to common ground is an encouraging result from
this round of dialogue, and both sides have
identified stability as a goal, although they
diverge on the means to achieve it. This is an
opportunity for world leaders to be constructive
and help the parties identify a common goal for
the talks as a path to achieving the resolution
of differences that the international community supports and seeks."

In line with the Chinese government’s strident
approach, Zhu Weiqun, Executive Vice Chairman of
the United Front Work Department of the Communist
Party and one of the envoys’ counterparts in the
dialogue, told press today in Beijing that there
was no possibility of the "slightest compromise"
on the issue of sovereignty in Tibet and said
that the two sides were still "sharply divided."
Zhu also warned that if US President Obama
"chooses to meet with the Dalai Lama at this
time, it will certainly threaten trust and
co-operation between China and the United
States."
(http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/8492608.stm)
The White House has confirmed that President
Obama will meet the Dalai Lama, although it has not yet announced a date.

The Chinese government has lately come to
describe Tibet as a "core issue" of national
sovereignty,  and it has responded to the Dalai
Lama’s proposal for genuine autonomy for Tibetans
within the People’s Republic of China as
"disguised independence." But the Dalai Lama’s
proposition would not challenge Chinese
sovereignty or claim as "Tibetan" or "autonomous"
any territory beyond that which the government
has already designated as "Tibetan autonomous"
(the Tibet Autonomous Region and parts of
Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan provinces,
roughly equivalent to the geography of the Tibetan plateau).

In today’s statement, Lodi Gyari said that the
talks included a briefing on the Fifth Tibet Work
Forum, a top-level strategy meeting that
concluded in Beijing in the week before the
envoys arrived in China. The envoys in turn
welcomed indications from the proceedings that
the authorities were seeking to improve the lives
of Tibetans, particularly those in rural areas,
and that the meeting covered the issue of
development in all Tibetan areas of the People’s
Republic of China, including those Tibetan areas
outside the Tibet Autonomous Region. The envoys
said: "If we take away the political slogans,
many of the issues that have been prioritized by
the Forum are similar to the basic needs of the
Tibetan people outlined in our Memorandum [on Genuine Autonomy]."

"China continues to demonstrate by meeting with
the Dalai Lama’s envoys and their menacing
remarks aimed at Washington that the Tibet issue
ranks very high in Chinese diplomacy. A failed
strategy in Tibet is a problem for China, and
they know it. The bottom line is that the
Tibetans are the key stakeholders and that means
that the direct involvement of the Dalai Lama,
whose legitimacy among the Tibetan people is
indisputable, is essential for a peaceful and
stable solution," Markey concluded.

Related link:
'Top-level meeting in Beijing sets strategy on Tibet,' ICT, January 29, 2010
<http://savetibet.org/media-center/ict-news-reports/top-level-meeting-beijing-sets-strategy-tibet>

Press contact:
Kate Saunders
Communications Director, International Campaign for Tibet
Email: press@savetibet.org
Tel: +44 (0) 7947 138612
CTC National Office 1425 René-Lévesque Blvd West, 3rd Floor, Montréal, Québec, Canada, H3G 1T7
T: (514) 487-0665   ctcoffice@tibet.ca
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