Tibet’s exiled leader, the Dalai Lama, has called on China to allow journalists into Tibet to investigate the recent crackdown on anti-Chinese protests there, as China said it was ready to hold talks with one of his envoys.
Dalai Lama meets with Chinese media representatives after visiting Colgate University in New York, April 24, 2008.
Speaking to Chinese reporters here after a visit to Colgate University April 24, the Dalai Lama again rejected Chinese allegations that he aims to separate Tibet from China and said previous contacts between Beijing and the Tibetan exile government hadn’t been "meaningful."
He said he wrote a letter March 20 to the Chinese central authorities proposing talks. “Whenever we meet, they always blame us for the Tibet violence. Therefore there is no meaningful dialogue, only contacts,” he said.
On Friday, Beijing said it would meet with an envoy from the Dalai Lama, following weeks of calls from world leaders for dialogue in the wake of anti-government protests in Tibet.
“In view of the requests repeatedly made by the Dalai side for resuming talks, the relevant department of the central government will have contact and consultation with Dalai's private representative in the coming days," the official Xinhua News Agency said, quoting an unidentified official. It gave no details.
Xinhua said China had committed only to a meeting and appeared to attach routine conditions for opening a dialogue with the Dalai Lama, including a demand that he stop plotting for Tibet's independence “so as to create conditions for talks.”
Kalsang Gyaltsen, the Dalai Lama’s special envoy in Europe, has acknowledged that he was contacted by Chinese authorities about the proposed talks but has given no details.
The exile Tibetan prime minister, Samdhong Rinpoche, suggested the time wasn’t right for renewed discussions.
“We feel it will require normalcy in the situation in Tibet for the formal resumption of talks, and we are committed to take all steps including informal meetings to continue in bringing about this” situation, he said in a statement
“It is our position that for any meeting to be productive it is imperative for the Chinese leadership to understand the reality and acknowledge the positive role of His Holiness the Dalai Lama rather than indulging in a vilification campaign that is even contained in this same Xinhua report,” Samdhong Rinpoche said.
‘Satisfy the Tibetan people’ The Dalai Lama urged Chinese authorities to work harder on behalf of Tibetans.
“The real guarantee for Tibet to remain within the PRC [People’s Republic of China] is the Chinese government and officials must provide deep satisfactions to Tibetan people,” he said. “If they are satisfied with their life, they will not seek independence.”
“We earnestly appeal to the international community as well as to the Chinese government to please allow media people to go freely into the areas to carry out a thorough investigation, not simply rely on information from government sources,” he said.
The Dalai Lama also expressed some differences with the Tibetan Youth Congress, which Beijing has recently labeled as a terrorist group.
“Whenever we met, I always made it clear that you are Tibetan youth, you love Tibet, which is very good. You play a very important role in preserving Tibetan culture and Tibetan spirituality,” he said.
“For political matters, we have difference. We fight for autonomy, you fight for independence. For our point of view, your stance is unrealistic.”
He said he doesn’t oppose either the Chinese people or the Olympic Games, planned for this summer in Beijing—and that he would love to go to Beijing to watch the Games.
Chinese authorities and envoys from the exile government in northern India have held six rounds of inconclusive talks that foundered in late 2007. The Dalai Lama’s envoys were allowed to visit Tibetan areas in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces, but only once were they allowed to visit the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
Anti-Chinese riots that began in mid-March spread from the TAR capital, Lhasa, into neighboring provinces, in the most widespread and sustained Tibetan protests in nearly five decades. The unrest, and China’s violent crackdown, drew international attention and sparked angry protests against China around the world.
China has set at 22 the death toll in Lhasa riots, all but one of them Han Chinese. But witnesses say many more were killed in the crackdown throughout Tibetan regions of western and southwestern China.
The Tibetan government in exile reports that as many as 140 Tibetans have been killed.
Original reporting by Shen Hua for RFA's Mandarin service and by RFA's Tibetan service. Translation and editing by Jia Yuan and Karma Dorjee. Mandarin service director: Jennifer Chou. Tibetan service director: Jigme Ngapo.