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Uighur unrest shows China's failures - Dalai Lama

August 9, 2009

By Laura MacInnis
Aug 6, 2009

* Tibet spiritual leader says Beijing's stance changing

* Dalai Lama says unrest shows minority policy has failed

* Expects more freedom in Tibet within a decade

GENEVA, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Ethnic riots in
northwest China have exposed the failings of
Beijing's minority policies, and a more
"realistic" stance toward Tibetans and others
could emerge within a decade, the Dalai Lama said on Thursday.

On a visit to Geneva, he said there were no talks
under way between Beijing and the exiled Tibetans
he leads on the future of Chinese rule in his Himalayan homeland.

The Tibetan spiritual leader said the Uighur
unrest in Xinjiang province in July, in which 197
people died according to the official death toll,
showed the need for the Chinese Communist Party to rethink its approach.

"The time has come," the Nobel Peace Prize winner said.

"Their policy basically failed to bring
enthusiasm in the minority people," he said,
citing a lack of trust and little feeling of a
"concept of we" across different Chinese groups.

In Xinjiang's worst ethnic violence in decades,
native Uighurs last month attacked Han Chinese in
the regional capital Urumqi after police tried to
break up a protest against attacks on Uighur
migrant workers in south China. [ID:nPEK293579]

Chinese authorities said most of those killed in
the riots were Han Chinese, who make up the
overwhelming majority of China's 1.3 billion
population. Exiled Uighurs said security forces
then detained thousands of Uighurs.

Millions of Han Chinese have migrated into
Xinjiang during decades of Communist rule and
tensions run high between them and Uighurs, a
Muslim people culturally and linguistically tied to Central Asia.


Last year violent anti-Chinese protests in Tibet
led to 19 deaths and, according to exiles, a
subsequent crackdown by security forces killed more than 200. [ID:nPEK215454]

The Dalai Lama has lived in India since fleeing a
failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959.
China accuses him of stoking unrest among
Tibetans, while he says he opposes violence and
seeks religious freedom and autonomy for the region.

Speaking to reporters after a meeting with
Chinese and Tibetan activists, he described a
"very clear" split between hardliners and
moderates among China's leaders, and said Chinese
intellectuals were increasingly pressing for a new stance.

"After five years, 10 years, I think things will
change," he said, adding that many Chinese
leaders privately acknowledged a need "to bring a more realistic policy".

"When I look at Tibet issue locally I am
hopeless," he said. "When I look at Tibet issue
from wider perspective, I am very, very optimistic." (Editing by Andrew Roche)
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