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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."

Editorial: Hu Jintao should not snub the Dalai Lama

November 2, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Editorial, The China Post news staff, Taiwan

Hu Jintao is to begin his second five-year term as president of the
People Republic of China after winning re-election as general secretary
of the Chinese Communist Party at the just-concluded Communist Party
Congress. But he is facing a series of daunting challenges in the next
five years on numerous issues, including improving human rights and
religious freedom.

Underscoring these issues was a high-profile ceremony honoring the Dalai
Lama by the U.S. Congress, which accorded the spiritual leader of Tibet
with its highest honor -- the Gold Medal. U.S. President George W. Bush
and first lady Laura Bush attended the ceremony, held Oct. 16 on Capitol
Hill, despite strong protests from Beijing which views the Dalai Lama as
a separatist.

The Dalai Lama denies the accusation, saying he is seeking nothing more
than "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet under the PRC flag. The Buddhist
monk, who has been in exile since 1959, said he regarded himself as
"Chinese" (and "a refugee" as well), and that he has long abandoned his
pursuit of Tibet's independence. He told Chinese reporters in Washington
that his homeland would be "weak and poor" on its own, without help and
support from China.

This is a clear and unequivocal statement of his position, a position
that can hardly qualify him as a separatist or "splittist." He once was,
to be sure, but he renounced the effort in 1987, in favor of what he
calls "meaningful autonomy." It is unclear what that means, because
Tibet has already been one of the autonomous regions in the People's
Republic of China. What is known is that negotiations on that issue have
been going on and off for quite a long period of time, with the last
attempt, the sixth, breaking off in July.

What caused the breakdown of the July talks, held in Shanghai and
Nanjing, is unknown to the outside world, except the Dalai Lama's
revelation that Beijing "suddenly got tough." Why the change in
attitude? It is difficult to gauge, judging from the secrecy surrounding
the talks. Whatever the reason, it is in the interest of mainland China
to re-open dialogue with the Dalai Lama to resolve the issue once and
for all. Hu Jintao appears to be the best person to take charge of the
issue, because he worked for a long time in Tibet as party commissar --
the man wielding the highest power in Tibet.

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