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WASHINGTON--The elder brother of Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, will leave Hong Kong on Monday for three months of travel and his first return visit to Tibet in 50 years, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports. Sources close to Gyalo Thondup, who has acted as an envoy between Beijing and the Dalai Lama in the past, told RFA's Tibetan service that Thondup hopes for frank talks with Chinese and Tibetan authorities about China's often heavy-handed treatment of the Himalayan territory. Thondup's trip will include a visit to the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, from July 3-12, according to the sources, who asked not to be named. He will travel to Beijing on July 1, then to Lhasa and to his native Amdo Prefecture--now Qinghai Province--and finally to Xinjiang Province in northwestern China. His entire journey is expected to last about three months. Thondup was last in Lhasa in 1952 and in Amdo, where he and his siblings were born, in 1950. No comment was available from the Chinese Embassy in Washington, and what exactly Thondup's trip might mean for China's relations with the Dalai Lama was unclear. Beijing has rebuffed the Dalai Lama's previous efforts to engage it in a dialogue about the future of Tibet. Thondup, now retired and living mainly in northern India, worked with the CIA in the 1950s and 60s in waging a guerrilla war against Chinese forces in Tibet. That campaign failed, and American backing for it ended during Washington's rapprochement with Beijing in the early 1970s. Thondup has paid several visits to China in the past, meeting in 1979 with China's late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. On orders from Mao Zedong, Chinese troops invaded and annexed Tibet in 1950 in what Beijing calls a "peaceful liberation" from feudalism. Chafing under Chinese rule, Tibetans staged an uprising in 1959. When it failed, the Dalai Lama and nearly 100,000 of his followers were forced to flee across the Himalayas to northern India and Nepal. The Dalai Lama, born Tenzin Gyatso, won the 1989 Nobel Prize for Peace in recognition of his long-running, nonviolent opposition to Chinese rule. Radio Free Asia (RFA) broadcasts news, information, and cultural programming to Asian listeners who lack regular access to full and balanced reporting in their domestic media. Through its broadcasts and call-in programs, RFA aims to fill a critical gap in the lives of people across Asia--giving them a voice as well as a means of connecting with the world and with one another. Created by Congress in 1994 and incorporated in 1996, RFA currently broadcasts in Burmese, Cantonese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, the Wu dialect, Vietnamese, Tibetan (Uke, Amdo, and Kham), and Uyghur. It adheres to the highest standards of journalism and aims to exemplify accuracy, balance, and fairness in its editorial content.


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