11/07/2008, 00.00
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No progress in negotiations with the Dalai Lama’s envoys

The minister for the Central United Front Work Department rules out any solution that would entail autonomy or federalism for Tibet. Fears are growing that young Tibetans might turn to violence and that Beijing might in turn respond with even greater repression.
Beijing (AsiaNews) – The 8th round of negotiations between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and the Chinese government from 30 October to 5 November ended without any apparent results. Statements in Chinese news agencies and by the Tibetan delegation refer to meetings held with officials from the United Front and the Tibet Autonomous Region and mention a visit to the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, but they are utterly silent about any progress being made. In fact if comments by Du Qinglin, minister of the Central United Front Work Department, are any indication, Beijing is not prepared to give up anything.

In a communiqué published by Xinhua released yesterday, Mr Du made it clear that whatever future is in store for Tibet, its “adherence to the CPC's leadership, the socialist path with Chinese characteristics and the regional autonomy system for ethnic minorities [. . .] stipulated in China's Constitution,” must be maintained.

For many, many years, under pressure from Beijing who accuse him of trying to break the unity of the Chinese nation, the Dalai Lama has repeatedly said that he is not seeking Tibet’s independence, or that he is in favour of the use of violence. Instead he has reiterated that his goal is genuine cultural and religious autonomy for the Tibetan people in order that it can be saved from cultural genocide, asking that his country be granted an institutional arrangement similar to that of Hong Kong and Macao, which is “one country, two systems”.

Instead Mr Du explained that the regional ethnic autonomy system that is exercised under China's unitary system is different from the federal system found in some countries, or the “one country, two systems” model in place in Hong Kong and Macao.

China’s “fundamental political system [. . .] will never allow ethnic splitting in the name of ‘true ethnic autonomy’,” which was the issue raised in a memorandum by the Dalai Lama’s envoys in the latest round of negotiations.

For Du the door to “Tibet independence”, "half independence" or "covert independence” will never open.

Such is the situation that a few days ago the Dalai Lama expressed his pessimism with regard to the negotiations and said that he would no longer play any major role in the Sino-Tibetan process, limiting his action primarily to the religious field.

For this reason he convened a special meeting for 17 November in Dharamsala (India) where Tibetans will be able to evaluate and choose how to shape their future.

In light of that meeting the Dalai Lama’s envoys have not made any statement or expressed any view about the negations with Beijing, reserving the right to do so until after the November meeting.

The Dalai Lama and many Tibetan leaders are deeply concerned that Beijing’s hardening line and the fruitlessness of the negotiations might provoke a violent reaction among young Tibetans and cause another brutal round of repression by the Chinese.

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