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Tibetan Envoys Reiterate Calls for Sincere Talks

October 10, 2008

By Phurbu Thinley
October 9, 2008

Dharamsala, Oct 9 -- Ahead of a fresh round of talks with the Chinese
government later this month; Tibetans envoys have once again publicly
emphasized the need for China to come forward with sincere approach
to resolve the long-pending Tibet issue.

Since returning from the seventh round of talks held earlier in July,
Tibetans envoys have repeatedly reiterated their calls on China on
the need to hold result-oriented talks at various avenues, raising
doubts on the failing diplomatic efforts in the ongoing dialogues.

Speaking to audience members at the Harvard Kennedy School on
Tuesday, Lodi G. Gyari, special envoy of the Dalai Lama, emphasized
the vital role the Tibetan people play in China's "national family"
and called on the Chinese government to participate in bilateral
talks with a sincere desire to reach a solution, Harvard Crimson
reported yesterday.

During the appearance, Mr Gyari, experiencing restrained
responsiveness from Communist Party representatives, expressed
concern over whether the ongoing discussions would lead to an
equitable solution.

"In the absence of serious and sincere commitment on [the Chinese]
part, the continuation of the present dialogue process would serve no
purpose," he was quoted as saying.

Gyari has served as the head negotiator for the Tibetan delegation
since talks between the Tibet's Government in exile, headed by the
Dalai Lama, and the People's Republic of China resumed in 2002 after
a decade long deadlock. His continued diplomatic efforts have had
some success, but he said Chinese insistence on the Dalai Lama as a
major instigator of resistance has slowed down the process.

In the wake of several pro-Tibet protests and demonstrations across
Tibet earlier this year, Chinese authorities charged the Tibetan
spiritual leader with condoning, even encouraging, violence.

As Gyari noted, Chinese officials were later forced to recognize the
protests as "a strong expression of discontentment" on the part of
the Tibetan people, not the result of an inflammatory religious influence.

But more than a misplacement of blame, Gyari worried that severe
prolongation in discussions would force the Dalai Lama, now 73 years
old, to live his remaining days in exile in India. If this were to
happen, he said, "it would take generations for the Tibetan people to
forgive the Chinese policies."

But looking ahead to this month's meeting in Beijing, Gyari was
cautiously hopeful. He projected that, for lack of any fundamental
differences between the Tibetans and the Chinese, cooperation would
eventually lead to a solution in which Tibet self-governance and a
stable Chinese society go hand-in-hand.

Gyari carefully distinguished self-governance from independence, a
goal that the Dalai Lama's 'Middle-Way' policy has never supported.

Attendees included several members of the local Tibetan communities,
some of whom questioned how executive power will be divided between
the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama once an accord is reached.

"Obviously we see Beijing as the central government," Gyari assured,
explaining that as the result of an agreement the government-in-exile
would dissolve. But by allowing the Dalai Lama to continue to speak
as the moral authority for the Tibetan people, he added, China can
grow as "a power that is respected, and not just feared."

Speaking in London on Wednesday, envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen, another lead
negotiator for the Tibetan delegation, said Beijing was only taking
part to "deflect international criticism", Daily Mail reported yesterday.

His accusation comes at a critical time when both sides are preparing
to enter the eighth round of talks, during which the Tibetan
representatives are likely to present their detailed plans for a
"genuinely autonomous" Tibet.

The Dalai Lama has called a 'special meeting' of 'all Tibetan exile
groups for next month - only the second time this has happened - to
discuss the progress of the talks and the situation inside Tibet'.

Gyaltsen said the Tibetan leader did this in response to the "lack of
any signs of progress in the dialogue process" and the worsening
state of affairs within Tibet following the widespread anti-China
protests across the region.

According to him, Chinese repression in Tibet is as bad as it was
during the Cultural Revolution.

He warned the situation inside Tibet was "very alarming" and
continuing to deteriorate.

"At the moment the situation inside Tibet is for us Tibetans the
greatest concern," he added.

"First of all, now the Olympic Games are over, with that there is
also the possibility that the world attention on China will weaken.

"Against this background we feel it is important that the focus is
kept on Tibet because the situation inside Tibet is very alarming and
very gloomy."

China's policies - ranging from movement restrictions and
confiscation of computers and mobile phones to its "patriotic
re-education" campaign - have made Tibet like a "giant prison", he said.

"Tibetans inside Tibet speak of a return of the atmosphere of fear
and intimidation just like in the days of the Cultural Revolution," he added.

The last round of talks in July ended with the Dalai Lama's
negotiators telling their Chinese counterparts they were losing hope
that the dialogue process served "any useful purpose", he said.

But the Chinese team responded by saying they had been helpful in
giving both sides a better understanding of each other's position.

And they invited the Tibetans to submit a detailed outline of their
proposals for solving the long-running dispute at the eighth round of
talks in Beijing at the end of this month, Gyaltsen said.

The Dalai Lama says he is not seeking independence, but wants
"genuine autonomy" within the People's Republic of China for all Tibetans.
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