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China's communists sack Tibet policymaker

November 23, 2008

By Emma Graham-Harrison and Benjamin Kang Lim
Reuters
November 20, 2008

BEIJING, Nov 20 (Reuters) - A key Communist Party policymaker for
Tibet has been removed from her post, sources said, as exiles gather
to discuss their future and a top Chinese negotiator warned there is
no room for more concessions to the Dalai Lama.

Bi Hua, a Han Chinese, was asked to step down recently as director of
the No. 7 bureau of the Party's United Front Work Department, two
independent sources with knowledge of the case said, requesting
anonymity for fear of repercussions.

It was not clear if illness, an overly gentle line on Tibet or some
other issue prompted Bi's removal from the helm of the No. 7 bureau,
which oversees Tibetan affairs.

"The Party has placed her on probation ... but she is convinced she
has not done anything wrong," one source told Reuters.

The department could not immediately be reached for comment.

The change came as Tibetan exiles gathered for a special meeting to
discuss their future, a gathering that could possibly challenge the
Dalai Lama's moderate line towards Beijing.

The Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an
abortive uprising against Communist rule, wants genuine autonomy for
his Himalayan homeland.

But China reviles him as a separatist, and officials often accuse him
of secretly harbouring pro-independence sentiments that he has
publicly rejected.

"Even though the Dalai changes his strategy to match the
circumstances, his underlying values of wanting something for nothing
have not changed," Zhu Weiqun, vice minister who handles relations
with non-Communists, ethnic minorities and religious leaders, was
quoted as saying by the People Daily on Wednesday.

A recent visit to China by personal envoys of the Dalai Lama yielded
no progress and Chinese officials have recently shown little taste
for flexibility.

Beijing's hard line has created increasing frustration among some in
the Tibetan diaspora who fear the 73-year-old Dalai Lama has not been
aggressive enough. (Editing by David Fox)
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