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China attacks Dalai Lama but offers more talks

July 3, 2008

By Benjamin Kang Lim and Chris Buckley
Guardian (UK)/Reuters
July 3, 2008

(Recasts, updates throughout)

BEIJING, July 3 (Reuters) -- China launched another attack on Tibet's
Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, on Thursday but also offered to
continue talks provided he showed "positive behaviour" as the country
readies for the Olympic Games.

The comments, carried in state media, came as China made its first
official statement about a secretive meeting with the Dalai Lama's
envoys in Beijing this week.

Du Qinglin, head of the ruling Communist Party's United Front Work
Department, which deals with ethnic minorities and religions, met
with representatives of the Dalai Lama in talks that started on Tuesday.

As it counts down to the Aug. 8-24 Games, China has faced
international pressure to pursue talks with the exiled Buddhist
leader after rioting and protests shook Tibetan areas in March.

But China has accused the Dalai Lama of instigating the unrest, a
charge he has repeatedly denied. And in comments reported by the
official Xinhua news agency, Du laid down broad demands to the Dalai's envoys.

"The door to dialogue is always open," Du said, according to Xinhua.

But he added that the Buddhist leader should "openly and clearly
promise and though concrete actions not support activities disturbing
or sabotaging the Olympic Games, not support, plan or incite violent
criminal activities," and not support any efforts to achieve Tibetan

"If the Dalai Lama truly shows positive behaviour, there can be a
next talk before the end of the year," other Communist Party
officials said, according to Xinhua.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who fled into exile in India in 1959
after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, has said he wants a
high level of autonomy for Tibet, but not outright independence.

Beijing says his conditions amount to a bid for independence.


Xinhua launched its latest round of harsh criticism of the monk
immediately after releasing reports on the latest talks, pointing out
the Dalai Lama's planned trips to the U.S. and France during the Olympic Games.

"While it's been more than two months since the March 14 riot in
Tibet, the Dalai Lama has shown no intention of taking a break or to
display any sincerity in reining in his negative comments on the
Chinese government," Xinhua said in an English-language piece.

The envoys, Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, the Dalai Lama's
representatives in Washington and Switzerland respectively, also
toured Olympic facilities and met Tibetologists in Beijing.

The last round of such talks was in May.

A representative of the Dalai Lama in northern India said he had no
information about the latest discussions in Beijing.

"We have no information as of now on how the talks went, but we do
expect the envoys to be here tomorrow afternoon and then they will
hold a meeting with his Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and tell us what
exactly happened," Chhime Chhoekyapa, a Dalai Lama aide, told Reuters
by telephone.

The current round of talks was delayed by three weeks in the wake of
China's deadliest earthquake in three decades.

Du, the Chinese official, explicitly demanded the Dalai Lama "not
support and earnestly restrain the Tibet Youth Congress' violent
terrorist activities".

The radical Tibet Youth Congress has vowed to use violence and
terrorism to achieve Tibet independence and the Dalai Lama has said
he was unable to influence the group's actions.

The English-language Xinhua piece doubted the distancing and alleged
a "conspiracy network".

"While some 'pro-Tibet Independence' activists claimed their goals
were different from the Dalai Lama, evidence has shown conspiracies
behind all the plots initiated by them were linked," Xinhua said.

For China, looking to the August Games as a proud affirmation of its
wealth and status, the link between the Olympics and Tibet is
especially sensitive.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy will get a cold public shoulder at
the Beijing Olympics if he attends, Chinese state media said on
Thursday in a sign of growing irritation over Sarkozy's stance on Tibet.

Sarkozy has said he will decide next week whether to attend the
opening of the Games, with his choice depending on how talks go
between Beijing and the Dalai Lama's envoys.

"Chinese people do not want French President Nicolas Sarkozy to
attend the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics," the China Daily
said, citing an Internet survey by, a popular local website.

During a trip to Britain in May, the Dalai Lama said he was willing
to attend the Olympics if talks between his envoys and China yielded
results. He did not elaborate. (Additional reporting by Bappa
Majumdar in Dharamsala and Guo Shipeng and Ben Blanchard in Beijing;
Editing by Jerry Norton)
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