China and envoys of the Dalai Lama hold talks about Tibet

Despite an apparent intent to hold further talks before the Beijing Olympics, China continues to criticize the 'Dalai clique.'

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A day after the first talks between the Dalai Lama's envoys and Chinese officials in a year, both sides have reportedly agreed to hold further meetings.

Sunday's talks, held in the city of Shenzhen, near Hong Kong, were aimed at easing tensions after antigovernment riots in Tibet in March that have cast a shadow over the buildup to China's Olympic Games. For weeks, international leaders have pressed China to reopen talks with the Dalai Lama's envoys.

Reuters reported Monday that government officials told China's state Xinhua news agency that further discussions would be held "at an appropriate time."

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Tibet's government in exile said the new talks had been "vital," according to Agence France-Presse.

"The fact we are once again in contact is very vital for a solution to the Tibetan issue," Thubten Samphel, spokesman of the northern India-based Tibetan government-in-exile, told AFP by phone.
"It is also very good that China agreed to honour a meeting later."...
"The issue of Tibet is too complicated and one cannot expect one or two rounds of talks will lead to solutions, but what is important is that the two sides are talking, which will help in dispelling mistrust,"

The rhetoric from China seemed less encouraging, however.

The Associated Press reported that China criticized the Dalai Lama, whom it has long accused of wanting Tibetan independence, even as talks got under way.

"[State news agency] Xinhua quoted Chinese experts on Tibet as saying the Tibetan Youth Congress, an exile group, was the "armed spearhead of the 14th Dalai Lama group" dedicated to separating Tibet from China.
It quoted a researcher from the Beijing-based China Tibetology Research Center as saying the Tibetan Youth Congress was behind the March 14 riots.
"We hope the 14th Dalai Lama could truly give up 'Tibet independence,' stop secessionist activities, stop instigating violence, stop disrupting the Beijing Olympics, effectively prevent TYC's violence and denounce its terrorist acts," Xinhua quoted Liu Hongji as saying.

The Dalai Lama has long denied that he is a separatist. But he has pushed for greater autonomy for Tibet and accused China of human rights abuses in his homeland, which he fled in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

Two decades later, his envoys met Chinese officials for the first time. But talks were suspended in 1994 before being revived in 2002. Still, the mainstream Chinese view is that the Dalai Lama is responsible for provoking ethnic conflict, reported The Christian Science Monitor.

Bloomberg quoted China's president, Hu Jintao, as saying that the Dalai Lama had a hand in the recent Tibetan riots.

"We sincerely hope the Dalai Lama and his supporters will show through concrete actions they have stopped activities of splitting the country, stopped plotting and inciting violent activities and stopped undermining the Beijing Olympics, to create conditions for further consultation," Hu said.

The Chinese media, including People's Daily Online, has been similarly aggressive in its rhetoric.

"Listen to what a person says and watch what he does," as an ancient Chinese saying goes. We hope the Dalai side will put the national interest first, comply with the aspirations of all Chinese people, including those of people of all ethnicities in Tibet and comply with the tide of historical development, and truly halt activities to separate the motherland, stop inciting violent moves and stop activities to disrupt Beijing Olympic Games, so as to create favorable conditions for contact in the next step.

In an opinion piece in the Daily Telegraph, journalist David Eimer said it would be foolish to expect too much of the latest round of talks between China and the Dalai Lama's envoys.

"Those who see the talks as a hopeful sign that China is willing to compromise should look at the confrontational language still being used by officials this weekend to describe the Dalai Lama and his followers.
Such phrases as "Dalai Clique" are a throwback to the Cultural Revolution of the Sixties and Seventies, when the enemies of Mao Tse-tung were the "Anti-Party Clique."
Such language is deployed when China feels threatened. These days, it is accompanied by the aggressive nationalism that has replaced the Maoist mantras once chanted.
President Hu Jintao is not a man to back down in the face of the Dalai Lama. Mr Hu sealed his place as a future president by ordering the bloody crackdown on the last major protests in Tibet in 1989, when in charge of the region.
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