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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."

Senior Chinese leaders taunt Tibetan leader, speak of his passing

November 12, 2008

Geoffrey York
The Globe and Mail (Canada)
November 11, 2008

BEIJING - After the near-total breakdown of talks between China and
the Dalai Lama's representatives, Beijing has made it bluntly clear
that it is looking beyond the Dalai Lama to the era that will follow his death.

The 73-year-old Tibetan leader, who has suffered a bout of ill health
and hospital treatment in recent months, has already given up most of
his political duties. Now he faces taunting from Chinese officials,
who yesterday spoke openly of his "poor health" and his "passing away."

The Dalai Lama, hugely popular in the West and in the exiled Tibetan
community, has been the nemesis of the Chinese government for
decades. Beijing accused him yesterday of planning "apartheid and
ethnic cleansing" in his Tibetan homeland.

In a report later, China's state news agency said the government is
looking to the "post-Dalai Lama era." It quoted an official who made
repeated references to the advanced age and "poor health condition"
of the Tibetan leader.

The remarks are certain to deepen the gulf between Beijing and the
Tibetan exiles, who are planning a major summit from Nov. 17 to 22 to
decide on a new strategy in the aftermath of the failure of the
latest talks between the two sides.

During the past six years, China has held eight rounds of talks with
the Dalai Lama's envoys, including three rounds of discussions this
year. Cynics said the talks were merely a propaganda exercise, aimed
at defusing criticism of the Beijing Olympics, and that pessimistic
theory was given some corroborating evidence by the rapid failure of
the talks as soon as the Olympics had ended.

Last week, the Dalai Lama said he must "accept failure" in the talks
with Beijing. "Things are not going well," he told an audience in
Tokyo. "My trust in the Chinese government [is] now thinner, thinner, thinner."

His assessment was confirmed by senior Chinese officials, giving
their first public comments after the latest round of talks this
month. "Our contacts and talks failed to make progress," said Zhu
Weiqun, executive vice-president of the Communist Party department in
charge of talks with organizations outside the party.

He said the Dalai Lama's envoys should take "full responsibility" for
the failure of the talks. He vowed that Beijing will "never make a
concession" on the future of Tibet's political status.

Mr. Zhu said the latest talks with the envoys were strictly limited
to subjects of Beijing's choosing. "We merely talked about how the
Dalai Lama should completely give up his splittist opinions and
actions, and strive for the understanding of the central authorities
and all Chinese people."

At the talks, the Dalai Lama's representatives made a proposal for
the "genuine autonomy" of Tibet within China. But this idea was
flatly rejected by Chinese officials, who accused them of seeking
"ethnic splitting" and "covert independence."
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