10/30/2008, 00.00
CHINA - TIBET
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China-Tibet dialogue, Dalai Lama skeptical

Meetings resume in Beijing with representatives of the Tibetan leader in exile. But he has declared that he has no faith in the Chinese government. The British foreign minister urges China to begin fruitful dialogue, and recalls the detainees of the revolt, and the lack of free access to Tibet for diplomats and journalists. A meeting to discuss Tibetan strategy in November.

Beijing (AsiaNews) - Dialogue resumes today between the Chinese leadership and the envoys of the Dalai Lama, but there is little hope for progress, partly because of the recent declarations of the Tibetan leader in exile, who says that he is "distrustful" of the intentions of the Chinese government.

Tibetan envoys Kasur Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, together with three assistants, left Dharamshala this morning for Beijing, where they will remain for a week. This is the eighth session of the meetings between representatives of Tibet and China, and the first after the Beijing Olympics. Precisely in order to avoid undermining the success of the Olympics, Beijing agreed, before the games, to resume dialogue with envoys of the Dalai Lama, which had been broken off for years. For some time, the Dalai Lama has been calling for cultural and religious autonomy for Tibet, while giving up on political independence. But Beijing continues to accuse the Buddhist leader of wanting to divide the country. During the anti-Chinese demonstrations in Tibet in March, Beijing accused the Dalai Lama of provoking them, and violently repressed them with thousands of arrests.

In a comment released last October 28, the Dalai Lama recalled that last March, the Tibetan people "courageously articulated their discontentment with - and long-simmering resentment against - the Chinese government." Instead of facing the crisis and finding solutions, the Beijing government "accused me of inciting the recent unrest in Tibet" and "continues to hurl abuse against me." "I have faith and trust in the Chinese people; however, my faith and trust in the Chinese government is diminishing."

For the Dalai Lama, the response to this mistrust takes place through "not remaining silent" on the part of the free world, and the protection of Tibetan identity, with the introduction of "positive change inside Tibet."

Before the Olympics, many governments expressed their appreciation of Beijing's openness to dialogue, but - according to Tibetan activists - they are still not exerting enough pressure to call for results and demand the liberation of Tibetan prisoners.

As if in response to this concern, yesterday the British foreign minister, David Milibrand, published a written declaration in which he defends the position of the Dalai Lama, saying that the position of the Tibetan leader (renouncing Tibetan independence) responds fully to the requests of Beijing, and therefore there are no more excuses for avoiding dialogue. Milibrand also recalls the situation of the detainees, and denounces the lack of free access to the region of Tibet for diplomats and journalists.

But meanwhile, the Dalai Lama must face domestic problems as well. There are growing divisions between the Tibetan government in exile, Tibetan refugees, the Tibetan population in Tibet, and the young people. The first of these are very hopeful for dialogue with Beijing; the others are skeptical; the young people want more radical, even violent tactics. So far, the Dalai Lama has been an intermediary and reconciling figure for all these positions. In recent days, he said that this "intermediary" position might need to be reviewed, and called upon the leadership of the Tibetan government in exile to organize a meeting with all Tibetans in Dharamshala, to seek a common strategy. The meeting is scheduled for November 17-22.

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