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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."

Dalai Lama Says Talks With China Are Floundering

November 4, 2008


Wall Street Journal, NOVEMBER 3, 2008, 3:29 A.M. ET

TOKYO -- The Dalai Lama said Monday that negotiations with China were 
floundering and indicated he would take a less prominent role in 
Tibet's demands for greater autonomy from Beijing.
[Dalai Lama] Reuters

The Dalai Lama spoke during a news conference in Tokyo Monday at the 
Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan.

The Tibetan spiritual leader also said the region's government-in-
exile would soon invite foreign supporters to India to discuss 
solutions to the longstanding impasse. That meeting would come after a 
gathering of exiled Tibetan political organizations in mid-November, 
he said.

"I have to accept failure... Therefore, it is my moral responsibility 
to ask people what to do," the 73-year-old Dalai Lama told reporters 
in Tokyo. "Look locally, and the Tibet issue is hopeless," he said. 
"But if you look from a wider perspective, there's hope."

The Dalai Lama spoke after envoys representing the spiritual leader 
arrived in Beijing for another round of talks with Chinese officials, 
though the exact dates and details weren't known. Negotiations had 
shown some progress earlier this year, when the Dalai Lama's 
representatives promised to rein in extremist groups and not support 
violent plots targeting the Olympics.

But despite the overtures, Beijing's attitude toward the talks has 
cooled, the Dalai Lama said. The Tibetan leader is pressing Beijing 
for greater autonomy for the mountainous region, which has been under 
communist rule since 1951. Many Tibetans say they face limits on their 
religious practices and freedom of expression.

"On some level, the talks had become more cordial, more frank. We 
thought there was some progress," the Dalai Lama said. "Now the 
Chinese official attitude has hardened."

Beijing has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile 
in northern India since 1959, of leading a campaign to split Tibet 
from the rest of the country. China also says the leader incited 
violent antigovernment protests in March, charges he has denied. 
Chinese authorities' crackdown of those protests triggered world-wide 

Now, Chinese repression in Tibet is intensifying, the Dalai Lama said. 
"The situation has become much worse... now Tibet has something like a 
death sentence," he said. "A kind of cultural genocide is taking place 
in Tibet."

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama said he would "remain silent" to encourage 
open debate at the upcoming gathering of exiled Tibetan leaders slated 
for Nov. 17, and the following meeting among international supporters.

In recent months, the Dalai Lama has helped drum up foreign support 
for Tibet, meeting with a number of political leaders overseas. He 
spoke with U.S. Sen. Barack Obama by phone in April, then met with 
Sen. John McCain in July. He also visited the French Senate in August.

Still, the elderly monk said he wished to soon retire and leave the 
exiled government to decide its future course in a democratic way. But 
he may continue to act as a "senior adviser" to the region, he said. 
"I'm looking forward to complete retirement," he said. "Retirement is 
my human right."

Write to Hiroko Tabuchi at
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