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Gyalo Thondup reconfirms Deng Xiaoping's offer on Tibet talks

November 21, 2008

By Phurbu Thinley
November 19, 2008

Dharamsala, November 19 -- Gyalo Thondup, an elder brother of the
Dalai Lama and a former Kalon Tripa (Prime Minister of the Tibetan
Government-in-Exile in Dharamsala), Wednesday said he was shocked by
China's attempt to deny a statement made by former Chinese leader
Deng Xiaoping in 1979 that "except for independence all other issues
can be settled through discussions."

Earlier this month, following the eighth round of talks with the
representatives of the Dalai Lama, China refuted that any such
statement was ever made by Deng Xiaoping.

In response to a Japanese reporter's question whether Deng Xiaoping
had stated in the late 70s that "except independence all other issues
can be settled through discussions'' as repeatedly claimed by the
Tibetan side, Mr. Zhu Weiqun, executive Vice-Minister of China's
Central United Front Work Department, which handles contacts envoys
of the Dalai Lama, reportedly said it was not true.

"Comrade Deng Xiaoping had never made such statement. It is a
falsehood made by Gyari and is a complete distortion of Deng
Xiaoping's statement," Zhu said at a press conference organised by
Information Office of the State Council in Beijing on November 10, 2008.

"I am shocked to hear such statement from the Chinese officials
because it was myself to whom the late paramount leader, Deng
Xiaoping, said that ''except independence all other issues can be
settled through discussions," Gyalo Thondup said.

He said: "Deng Xiaoping is no longer with us today. But to put the
record straight I would like to clarify in front of international
media that during my first visit to China in 1979 I met the paramount
leader Deng Xiaoping on March 12, 1979.

"He told me "except independence all other issues can be settled
through discussions."

Thondup also pointed out that various other Chinese officials, in
their dealings with him, had also stressed on the same. He noted that
the former Chinese premier Li Peng in an interview with Xinhua News
Agency on 19 May, 1991, also stated that all matters "except Tibetan
independence can be discussed".

This supposed indication from Deng and other Chinese leaders
subsequently influenced Dalai Lama to renounce 'independence', a
dream cherished by millions of Tibetans, especially the younger
generation which was torn between their aspiration for freedom and
their love for their leader.

Thondup, who worked for many years to advance the Dalai Lama's
efforts to begin talks with the Chinese leadership, addressed a press
conference here this evening to counter China's recent refusal to
acknowledge the statement allegedly made by the then Chinese leader.

Giving a broad overview of his involvement, particularly in the
period leading to his meeting with Deng Xiaoping in 1979, Thondup,
today said while he was in Hong Kong studying on China he was
approached several times by a Chinese official to visit Beijing to
discuss Tibet's situation directly with the Chinese leader.

Thondup said his first response was to reject the idea since he did
not hold any "political responsibility" over Tibet at that time. Upon
much insistence from Chinese, Thondup said, he later reported to the
Dalai Lama in India about the Chinese suggestion. He said the exiled
Tibetan leader welcomed the idea and advised him to meet Deng on a
"personal capacity" to hear what the Chinese leader had to say on the
Tibetan issue.

Thondup said it was during the meeting that Deng told him: "except
independence all other issues can be settled through discussions,"
the statement that later became the basis for the Dalai Lama's
'Middle-Path' approach for almost 30 years now.

Thindup said upon his meeting Deng told him so many things had
happened in the past years and acknowledged that Tibetan had suffered
tremendously, including Chinese people and also himself.

"Whatever has happened happened. So it is important to look to future
-- future is more important," Thondup quoted Deng as telling him
during their meeting in the Great Hall of the People.

Thondup said Deng even offered to hold talk immediately to settle the
Tibet issue, which he said he refused saying he had no authority to
negotiate on Tibet.

Thondup also added that soon after his meeting with Deng, a number of
'fact-finding' delegations were sent by the Dalai Lama to Tibet.

Thondup said he still optimistically supported the face-to-face
meeting with China as the best possible way to plead for the "equal
legitimate rights" that he said he personally advocates for the
Tibetan people in his dealings with China. He cautions China that for
the talks should be a two-way traffic in terms of confidence building.

He maintains Tibetan people's fight for their legitimate rights is a
justified cause that would prevail no matter how long it takes. He
said he has been volunteering his service since 1952 to find a
solution to the Tibetan problem, entirely on his "personal capacity"
and without holding any "political responsibility."

Former Kalon Tripa Juchen Thupten, who had been a member of the
Tibetan fact-finding and exploratory mission, also said he was
"totally surprised to learn" that Mr. Zhu had denied that such a
statement was actually made by Deng Xiaoping.

"I myself have sought confirmation on this regard from our Chinese
counterparts when I visited China as a member of the First Tibetan
Exploratory Mission to Beijing in 1982" Mr Juchen said in a statement
issued at today's press conference here.

Juchen said: "As a member of the First Tibetan Exploratory Mission,
we met with Vice-premier Yang Jireng, who was also the head of
Central United Front Work Department and Nationality Affairs
Commission and others on April 29, 1982. I sought confirmation from
Yang Yireng whether Deng Xiaoping had made such a statement. He did
not deny this fact."

The issue of Deng Xiaoping having actually made the statement has
become a subject of discussions among Tibetan exiles as eight rounds
of talks between and Dharamsala and Beijing, started since September
2002 has failed to generate any progress with China even denying that
such a statement was ever made.

Over 500 Tibetan exile leaders are holding closed-door discussions
for a major re-evaluation of their strategy since the Dalai Lama
outlined his "middle-way" policy in 1988 that seeks "real and
meaningful" autonomy through dialogues with the Chinese leadership
and rejects outright independence for the Tibetan region.
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