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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?"

Scholars Cautiously Optimistic Over Latest 'pragmatic' Offer

June 18, 2008

Klaudia Lee
South China Morning Post (SCMP)
June 17, 2008 

The latest overture by the Dalai Lama may have raised hopes that a
more favourable atmosphere for talks can be created between his
envoys and Beijing when the two sides are expected to sit down again
next month.

Yet while describing the latest offer as a "pragmatic" move, mainland
scholars are cautious about its effect, given that both sides remain
at loggerheads over the thorniest issue - Beijing's contention that
the Dalai Lama is seeking Tibetan independence.

Tanzen Lhundup, of the Chinese Centre for Tibetan Studies in Beijing,
said of particular significance in the Dalai Lama's latest gesture
was his offer to send representatives to the mainland to persuade
Tibetans not to protest.

"It is the first time he has made such an offer. It's a new measure,
which is heading in a constructive and pragmatic direction. I think
it's a friendly gesture," Tanzen Lhundup said.

However, despite the Dalai Lama's overtures, which also included his
calls in Sydney last week for Tibetans not to disrupt the Olympic
Games and the torch relay when it visited the Himalayan region,
Tanzen Lhundup said the most crucial issue had not been resolved.

"What did he mean by resolving the issue under the Chinese
constitution? Did he recognise the Tibetan Autonomous Region as it
has been running for the past 50 years?"

Beijing has insisted the Dalai Lama is not honouring his promise to
end calls for independence, despite statements to the contrary.
Beijing is particularly suspicious of his proposal for a greater
Tibet -- encompassing all Tibetan-inhabited areas including the
existing Tibetan Autonomous Region and parts of Sichuan, Yunnan,
Qinghai and Gansu -- which it sees as a form of separatist activity.

Samdhong Rinpoche, prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile,
says that what the Dalai Lama wants is merely "general autonomy" for
the 6 million Tibetans in China.

However, Tanzen Lhundup said the Dalai Lama was unclear as to whether
he wanted to set up a new regime under the Chinese constitution or
recognised the existing autonomous region.

"I think he should make clear his stance on this issue ... and that
he should take a more pragmatic and constructive approach in dealing
with this issue."

After deadly protests broke out in Lhasa on March 14, both sides held
"informal talks" in Shenzhen on May 4, during which they agreed to
continue "contacts and consultations".

Beijing has repeatedly stressed that the Dalai Lama's side must stop
separatist activities, inciting violence and disruptions to the
Beijing Olympics, to create the proper conditions for talks.

Lozang Khaskrub, associate professor at the Tibetan Studies Institute
at the Central University for Nationalities, said he believed much
time was still needed before the negative impact of the Lhasa
protests could be "diluted".

Lozang Khaskrub said Beijing had often regarded the autonomy that the
Dalai Lama called for as "de facto independence".
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