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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?"

China says no compromising on Tibet's future

November 12, 2008

Chris Buckley
The Times (UK)
November 10, 2008

BEIJING (Reuters) - The Dalai Lama's calls for "high-level autonomy"
for Tibet will never be accepted by Beijing, a Chinese official said,
taking an unbending line before talks by exiled Tibetans about the
future of their cause.

Zhu Weiqun, a vice minister of the Chinese Communist Party's United
Front Work Department, said Monday that envoys of the Dalai had
pressed his long-standing demand for "genuine autonomy" for the
mountain region during talks in Beijing last week.

Ahead of an agenda-setting meeting of exiled Tibetan activists, the
Dalai's representatives gave their Chinese hosts a "Memorandum for
all Tibetans to enjoy genuine autonomy." But Zhu's public response
was unyielding.

China would "never allow ethnic splitting in the name of genuine
autonomy," he told a news conference.

"In fact, this is seeking a legal basis for so-called Tibetan
independence, or semi-independence or covert independence," said Zhu,
whose department oversees the ruling Party's dealings with religious

His remarks were Beijing's first detailed comment on the talks with
envoys from October 31 to November 5, the ninth such discussions
since 2002 and the first since the Beijing Olympic Games.

They also laid out China's stance ahead of the meeting of exiled
Tibetans, some of whom embrace more radical demands going beyond
their 73-year-old leader's ideas for autonomy.

"Contacts and talks failed to make progress, and they should assume
full responsibility for it," Zhu added, referring to last week's meetings.

The Tibetan government-in-exile blamed the Chinese for failure of the
latest round of talks.

"When the Chinese were not willing to accept regional autonomy, they
should have said this from the beginning," Karma Chophel, speaker of
the Tibetan Parliament in-exile, told Reuters from Dharamsala,
headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

But the Chinese officials said the only point of the talks was to
impress on the Dalai Lama that their government would not relax its
hold on the region that saw deadly riots and protests in March.

"The doorway to contacts and consultations is always open," said
Sita, an ethnic Tibetan official in China's United Front Work
Department who has long been involved in contacts with exiled
Tibetans. Like many Tibetans, he uses only one name.

"But the doorway to Tibetan independence, semi-independence or covert
independence will never be open."

The Dalai's demands for high-level autonomy for the region include
ethnic Tibetan areas beyond the official Tibetan Autonomous Region.
Zhu accused the Nobel Peace Prize winner of seeking "ethnic
cleansing" across the whole area.

"If one day, he really seizes power," he said of the Dalai, "he will
without any compunction or sympathy carry out ethnic discrimination,
apartheid and ethnic cleansing."


The Dalai Lama fled into exile in 1959 after an abortive uprising
against Chinese rule. He has since lived in India, traveling the
world to promote his cause, and is still widely revered in his homeland.

He and other critics of China's rule say it stifles religious and
cultural freedom and promotes development that skews wealth and
opportunities away from poor Tibetans while encouraging influxes of
Chinese labor from other parts.

The Buddhist leader suggested this month his "middle way" for Tibet
short of outright independence was failing, and speculation has grown
he wants to step back from day-to-day political leadership after a
bout of poor health.

He is not attending the November 17-22 exiles meeting, perhaps a sign
he wants to leave this debate to a newer generation.

Some exiled Tibetans believe China will take their demands seriously
only if they shift to a more radical position, demanding outright independence.

But Zhu said his government's version of ethnic autonomous regions,
which gives little leeway for groups to challenge top-down controls,
is "perfect" and needs no modification.

"This is totally different from the Dalai Lama's so called genuine
autonomy," said Zhu. "In China, this is the way for ethnic regional
autonomy and there is no other way."

(Additional reporting by Bappa Majumdar in New Delhi; Editing by Ken
Wills and Jerry Norton)
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