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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Experts pessimistic about Tibet's future

July 27, 2008

by David Frey, Aspen Daily News Correspondent,
The Aspen Times (USA)
July 26, 2008

Experts on China and Tibet said that despite some recent gains, the
two sides remain far from reaching an agreement that would give
Tibetans greater autonomy.

"The bottom line is, you can't make a deal unless you've got both
sides willing to make one," said Richard Blum, a longtime Tibet
supporter and husband of Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.

Blum, who said he is exasperated after spending 20 years trying to
convince Chinese authorities to meet with the Dalai Lama, was one of
four experts speaking on the future of Tibet on Thursday night at the
Aspen Institute. Its symposium on Tibet culminates with appearances
by the Dalai Lama this weekend.

In a rare appearance at a celebration of Tibetan culture, a Chinese
professor appeared to offer Beijing's view of Tibet. He sometimes met
with jeers from some in the pro-Tibetan crowd when he criticized the
Dalai Lama as a shrewd political leader, and he dismissed the notion
of Tibetan independence.

"Tibet will always be Chinese," said Shi Yinhong, professor of
international relations and director of the Center for American
Studies at Beijing's Renmin University of China. Shi cautioned that
Western countries' support of the Dalai Lama endangers China's
relationship with them. His comments came as Sen. John McCain, the
presumptive Republican presidential candidate, announced his plans to
meet with the Dalai Lama in Aspen.

"The Chinese oppose any Western government to receive the Dalai
Lama," Shi said in an interview, noting that Beijing would have
concerns about either McCain's or his likely Democratic rival, Sen.
Barack Obama's, meeting with the Tibetan leader. "This would not be
good for China," he said.

The experts' discussion focused on the possibility of a "middle path"
for Tibet, which has been under Chinese occupation since 1949. The
Dalai Lama, who has been in exile in northern India since 1959, has
angered many Tibetans by calling for autonomy that falls short of independence.

"We are not seeking separation," said Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, the Dalai
Lama's special envoy based in Washington and lead negotiator with
China. He called the Dalai Lama's stance against Tibetan independence
"very unpopular" among Tibetan people.

"I can tell you no Tibetan leader of the future, nor of today, will
ever take that position," he said.

The Beijing Olympics have focused attention on China's occupation of Tibet.

Demonstrations within Tibet turned violent and deadly after Chinese
authorities cracked down on demonstrators. Protests sparked elsewhere
in China and in other countries in response, and protesters dogged
the Olympic torch as it traveled around the world.

The Dalai Lama said he supports the Olympics, and condemned violent protests.

Chinese leaders have refused to meet with the Dalai Lama, to whom
they often have referred as a "wolf in monk's robes." Blum said,
"They need to understand that His Holiness is the solution. He's not
the problem."
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