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Resumption of China/Tibet discussions PDF Print E-mail
[26 January 2010] Dalai Lama's envoys travel to Beijing via Yunnan to re-engage on discussions with the Chinese government. British Foreign Office Minister, Ivan Lewis, welcomed this move, saying, "I urge both sides to enter these talks in good faith and to make progress towards meaningful autonomy for Tibet. Peaceful dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama's representatives is the only way to bring about a lasting and peaceful solution to the problems in Tibet."

BBC report
Central Tibet Administration report
Central Tibet Administration Press Statement
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Tibet Society comment
These talks are taking place 15 months after the eighth round, which were also held in Beijing, where  the Tibetan side tabled a Memorandum on Tibetan Autonomy for discussion and negotiation. However, the Chinese government dismissed the Memorandum outright, stating there were no grounds for discussion and reverted back to its persistent rhetoric that the Tibetan side were still seeking independence for Tibet.

Despite world governments public support for the Dalai Lama and assertions that dialogue between his representatives and the Chinese government is the best and most realistic way to bring about a meaningful and just solution for Tibet and the Tibetan people, these words are rarely backed up with any practical measures that would encourage the Chinese side to take things forward to the next level where tangible progress could be made.

Over the last year the Chinese government has taken an increasingly hard-line approach to human and civil rights and has shown an alarming disregard to implementing internationally acceptable due legal processes. Two Tibetans were executed in October 2009, drawing strong criticism from the British Foreign Office and the European Union. Despite this, and following over two dozen interventions by the British government, in December, following a half day trial where he was found guilty on drug smuggling charges, a Chinese court ordered the execution of UK citizen Akmal Shaikh, a move that was strongly condemned by teh British government.

Also in December, there were further draconian sentences meted out to human rights defenders and other individuals, one being filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, who received a six year prison sentence. This sentence again drew criticism from the British government, with FCO Minister, Ivan Lewis, saying, the verdict, like that of prominent human rights defender Liu Xiaobo, raises serious concerns about the right to freedom of expression in China. I urge the Chinese Government to meet its international human rights obligations and respect constitutional guarantees on freedom of expression. International fair trial standards were not met in these cases. Nor in that of Tibetan lama Phurubu Tsering Rinpoche, who was sentenced to more than 8 years in prison on 23 December.

Although it is encouraging the British government is voicing its criticisms, the Chinese government is currently so emboldened that it pays no attention whatsoever.

When will world governments stop simply making statements and pursue new policies that set out practical measures and conditions to engagement that will make it in the best interests of the Chinese government to effect change and not just pay increasingly scant lip service? When will they get off the fence and meaningfully support China/Tibet dialogue for the real benefit of Tibet, for the good of China and to show the world that peaceful negotiation works?

Let us hope the current round of talks have some tangible and positive outcomes, but with the prevailing attitude of the Chinese government and little meaningful support from world governments, it is hard to see what will be achieved apart from the Chinese government yet again being able to say it met with the Dalai Lamas representatives, as if this an end in itself
and a bone to throw world governments.

► ACTION Write to your MP to ask what tangible outcomes or progress there have been for Tibet within the framework of the UK government's policy of engagement as set out in January 2009 and since the government clarified its position on Tibet in October 2008 by recognising it to be an autonomous part of the People's Republic of China.

Norman Baker, MP, asked a similar question in the House of Commons on 19 January. Foreign Office Minister, Ivan Lewis cited his visit to Tibet as progress. This misses the point of the question (progress in Tibet) and cannot be allowed to be called a concrete achievement for Tibet.

From Hansards: Norman Baker (Lewes) (LD): Last year, the Government changed their long-standing position on the status of Tibet to recognise Chinese sovereignty, despite the fact that it has no historical basis. The Chinese secured a major diplomatic victory as a consequence, but the Government said at the time that the decision would enable progress in Tibet. Can the Minister point to one single concrete achievement for Tibet that has resulted from that badly judged decision?
Mr. Ivan Lewis: I can; I was the first British Minister ever to be allowed to visit Tibet.

The government's document The UK and China: A framework for engagement can be found here. Tibet is mentioned on page 19: l) Progress towards a system of meaningful autonomy for Tibet within framework of Chinese constitution.

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U.S. and Britain Hope For Positive Results from Tibet Talks
Tuesday, 26 January 2010, Dharamshala: The United States and Britain have expressed optimism that the ninth round of dialogue between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the representatives of Chinese would produce positive results in resolving the issue of Tibet.

The United States was pleased to learn that the Dalai Lama's Special Envoys arrived today in China for their ninth round of meetings with Chinese officials. The United States strongly supports dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama's representatives to address longstanding differences. The Administration hopes this meeting will produce positive results and provide a foundation for future discussions to resolve outstanding issues, the US Department of State said in a statement posted on its web site on Monday.

Welcoming the resumption of talks, the United Kingdom's junior foreign office minister Ivan Lewis said: "I urge both sides to enter these talks in good faith and to make progress towards meaningful autonomy for Tibet."

"Peaceful dialogue between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama's representatives is the only way to bring about a lasting and peaceful solution to the problems in Tibet, Lewis was quoted as saying by Agence-France Presse. "I made this clear during my own visit to Tibet and Beijing last year," he added.

Central Tibet Administration Press Statement
25 January, Dharamshala: His Holiness the Dalai Lamas Special Envoy Lodi G. Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen will arrive in China tomorrow for discussions with the representatives of the Chinese leadership. This is the ninth round of dialogue. The Envoys are visiting China after a gap of 15 months in the process that began in 2002.

They will be accompanied by senior assistants Tenzin P. Atisha, Bhuchung K. Tsering, both members of Tibetan Task Force on Negotiations, and Jigmey Passang from the Secretariat of the Tibetan Task Force.

At a two day meeting of the Tibetan Task Force in Dharamsala chaired by Kalon Tripa, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, the Tibetan delegation finalised their preparations for the discussions in Beijing. On January 22, 2010 the Kalon Tripa and the two Envoys briefed His Holiness the Dalai Lama and sought his guidance.

The delegation is expected to return to India at the beginning of next month.

Chhime R. Chhoekyapa, Secretary to His Holiness the Dalai Lama
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