China willing to talk to Dalai Lama about his future, not Tibet

July 15th, 2008 - 3:11 pm ICT by IANS  

By Pranay Sharma
Beijing, July 15 (IANS) China is willing to talk to the Dalai Lama about his future but not that of Tibet, a senior Chinese official has said. “The central government will never discuss the future of Tibet with the Dalai Lama,” Dong Yunhu, director general of the state council information office, said. “What we can discuss with him is his future and that of some of his supporters.”

He explained the reason behind China’s stand is because of the Dalai Lama’s claim that he represents the Tibetan people.

“I don’t think he is qualified to represent Tibet. If he ever did, it was before 1959,” Dong added.

Dalai Lama along with many of his supporters had fled Tibet and taken refuge in India when Chinese troops moved in and took control of Lhasa in 1959. He has been heading the Tibetan government in exile from the Indian hill station of Dharamshala ever since.

The Chinese official averred that the Tibetan people had overthrown the “theocratic system” and established the “People’s Republic” in Tibet in 1959.

“He has lost all right to negotiate on the future of Tibet,” Dong said.

Talks between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and that of the Chinese government were held in Beijing between July 1 and 2. This was the first across-the-table negotiation between the two sides since the March 14 riots in Lhasa that killed 18 people and left hundreds of others injured.

China’s response to the prospect of the Dalai Lama’s return to Tibet has been guarded as became evident from the remarks of the director general of the state council information office.

Last week, a senior Chinese official had pointed out that if the Tibetan leader fulfilled some of the conditions put forward by Beijing, that include abjuring violence, abolishing his government-in-exile and distancing himself from the “violent activities” of the Tibetan Youth Congress, then China may consider his request to return to Lhasa.

But Dong, quoting the late Chinese leader Deng Xiao Ping, said “as long as Dalai Lama is willing to contribute for the development of China as a Chinese citizen” there is a prospect of his return.

“He must come back as a Chinese citizen. Independence, semi-independence or independence in disguise, is totally out of the question,” Dong added.

Asked about the status of the current negotiations between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama’s representatives, Dong said: “The first task is to increase mutual understanding, especially on the March 14 incident”.

He said China has asked the Dalai Lama not to support any move to boycott the Beijing Olympic games due in August and not to support any violent activities or protest against China.

He alleged that the Dalai Lama and his supporters were behind the March 14 riots as they wanted to create violence to bring the focus of the world on Tibet when China was holding the Olympics.

Dong said the “political position” of the Dalai Lama’s representative, as has become clear during negotiations, is “totally contrary” to the position of the Chinese government.

“They deny that Tibet is an inalienable part of China and demand autonomy for ‘Greater Tibet’. It means the Dalai Lama should rule all the land inhabited by Tibetans, nearly one-fourth of China, and Han Chinese should be moved out of those areas,” Dong added. He made it clear that this was a position that was not acceptable to China.

Asked to comment on India’s position on the Dalai Lama and the recent anti-Chinese protest by Tibetan supporters in Indian cities, Dong said Beijing was “appreciative” of the stand taken by New Delhi in preventing anti-Chinese protests in its territories.

“We hope India can adhere to this position of preventing supporters of Dalai Lama from using its territory to carry out anti-Chinese activities,” Dong said.

He added: “This forms a very important political basis for China-India friendship.”

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