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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Tibetan Task Force discusses Sino-Tibet negotiations, new Chinese leaders

January 7, 2013

By Lobsang Wangyal

MCLEOD GANJ, January 2, 2013 - The members of the Tibetan Task Force on Negotiations held a two-day meeting in Dharamsala from 31 December 2012 to 1 January 2013.

Chaired by Sikyong [Prime Minister] of the Central Tibetan Administration Lobsang Sangay, the meeting reviewed the deepening political crisis in Tibet, especially the tragic spate of self-immolations, and discussed the urgent need for peaceful resolution of the issue of Tibet’s status in relationship to China.

The meeting also discussed the new Chinese leadership led by Xi Jinping that will succeed President Hu Jintao in March, and its implications for the Tibet issue.

Although nine rounds of talks between the representatives of the Dalai Lama and the Chinese leaders have not yielded any results, with the subsequent resignation of the two Tibetan envoys from their posts citing frustration at a lack of progress, the members of the Task Force have expressed the need to continue with the dialogue.

Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen had led the talks since 2002, and resigned in June 2012. The Task Force meeting discussed the procedure for appointment of new envoys of the Dalai Lama.

Over the years China has refused to discuss any aspects of the Tibetan issue except the personal status of the Dalai Lama. They have refused to admit that there was any issue of Tibet’s political status, and are still holding to that position.

China occupied Tibet in 1959 leading to the flight of the Dalai Lama into exile in India, where he established a base for exile Tibet in the hill-top town of McLeod Ganj. He has called for a “meaningful autonomy” through his “Middle-way” policy. The Dalai Lama relinquished his political powers in May 2011, but his policy for autonomy has remained as the choice of the exile establishment.

The current Tibetan leadership led by Sikyong Lobsang Sangay remains firmly committed to non-violence and the Middle-Way Approach, and strongly believes that the only way to resolve the issue of Tibet is through dialogue.

Sangay has appealed to the Tibetans in Tibet not to undertake drastic actions, including self-immolations. More than 90 Tibetans have set themselves on fire with the hope that China will pay heed to their demands for greater freedom and to let the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to return.

The Task Force will be reconstituted with additional new members, and a meeting will be convened soon after the National People’s Congress session in March this year, when the new Chinese leadership will assume full responsibility.

In addition, last week, the Tibet Policy Institute organised an international conference of China experts in Dharamshala. Experts spoke on the leadership transition in China and its implications for the Chinese, Tibetans and others.

The conference was aimed for CTA to get fresh perspectives on the prevailing political, social and economic conditions in China so as to help set new approaches.

Prominent speakers at the conference included Prof Chong Pin-Lin from Taiwan, Dr Gordon Chang, Prof Micheal van Walt van Praag, Prof Madhu Bhalla, Dr Abanti Bhattacharya, Zhu Rui, and Lodi Gyari.

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