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Is there hope beyond the negative rhetoric coming from Beijing? PDF Print E-mail
[2 February 2010] The ninth round of talks is over. The Dalai Lamas envoys have returned to Dharamsala, where Special Envoy Lodi Gyari issued a reasonable and constructive statement. In contrast, in Beijing, Zhu Weiqun, executive deputy head of the Communist Party's United Front Work Department, the body that engages with the envoys, held a news conference where he adopted a tone of uncompromising rhetoric.

Zhu Weiqun said relations with the Dalai Lama was China's internal affair so "outsiders have no right to voice any opinions." He also repeated the long held line that, the central government wanted the Dalai Lama to abandon his stand to split the country, cease separatist activities, openly admit that Tibet was an inalienable part of China and Taiwan was an inalienable part of China and the government of the People's Republic of China was the only legal government representing China.

Mr Zhu used the opportunity to directly warn President Obama against meeting the Dalai Lama, suggesting that such a meeting would damage trust and co-operation between our two countries and asking, how would that help the United States surmount the current economic crisis?

The language used, the threats that Obama meeting the Dalai Lama would "seriously undermine the political foundation of Sino-U.S. relations", the reiteration that Beijing continues to refuse to discuss Tibet's status with the spiritual leader's envoys, all point to the unrelentingly closed position the Chinese government maintains on Tibet. That a Chinese government spokesman feels he can come out with such patently retrogressive statements about the Dalai Lama such as him being a troublemaker bent on inciting world hatred of China for its control of his mountainous homeland is an indication of the scant regard they give to world opinion. The Olympics are over, the mask is off, and we are increasingly seeing the Chinese government without its PR soft focus and somehow, it seems to be tacitly accepted.

As Walter Lohman, director of the Asian Studies Center at the Heritage Foundation in America commented, Its the Chinese who are the real outliers here. They're the only people in the world who have a negative impression of the Dalai Lama." How is it then that the Chinese governments assertion that the Dalai Lama continues to devote himself to anti-China propaganda and sabotage on the international stage, evokes no outrage or dismissal by world government spokesmen as nonsense?

When will world governments speak up? When will they stand by their avowed support for the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people?

Lodi Gyari said in his statement, A major difference between the two sides is the conflicting perspectives on the current situation inside Tibet. So, in order to have a common understanding of the real situation, we suggested a common effort to study the actual reality on the ground, in the spirit of seeking truth from facts. This will help both the sides to move beyond each others contentions.

This very honest and practical observation is one that must surely be supported by governments and is one which the Chinese government will find hard to reject if there is high level international encouragement both to develop it and set in place mechanisms to benchmark progress.

It is more imperative than ever for President Obama to meet the Dalai Lama, and set a practical and positive agenda for the meeting, building on some of the reasonable and tangible points raised by Lodi Gyari in his statement, ones that are pragmatic and not at all threatening to China. As many governments keep affirming, China must engage with the Dalai Lamas envoys on points of substance in order to find a mutually acceptable solution for Tibet, and as Lodi Gyari observed, this will ensure stability, unity and the development of a harmonious society. Something the Chinese government purportedly also wants.

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Postcard to Obama
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Statement by Lodi Gyari
Further reading
The Times
BBC
Xinhua (Chinese news agency) report
Further Xinhua report

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Postcard to Obama
Take part in a worldwide campaign and send a Losar (Tibetan New Year, which is on 14 February) postcard to President Obama expressing your hope that there will be tangible outcomes from his meeting with the Dalai Lama and he will take concrete action to facilitate a just solution for the Tibetan people. STOP PRESS: [11 February] Date set for Obama to meet the Dalai Lama; 18 February in the White House Map Room.

A special postcard has been designed, a printable pdf of the postcard can be downloaded here. Alternatively we or we can email you the files, please call the office on 020 7272 1414 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it . Or use  the text below (or write your own message) in a letter or card or your choice.  Another option is to use the White House on-line contact form and paste in the message of the card. You can also post an on-line message to President Obama on a new online space dedicated to all who love Tibet.


Dear Mr President,

Losar Tashi Delek! I send you a traditional Tibetan greeting for Losar, the Tibetan New Year, with my sincere hope that your forthcoming meeting with His Holiness the Dalai Lama will bring meaningful progress towards an end to Chinas occupation of Tibet.

Losar is traditionally a time for change, hope and renewal. Despite all the suffering and loss in Tibet during the past year, the Losar wish of all of us who love Tibet is that the year of the Iron Tiger will bring many tangible changes to the situation inside Tibet so that, in the future, Tibetans can live in peace and freedom.

I appeal to you to take concrete action to facilitate a just and lasting resolution for the Tibetan people this coming year.

Signed ..........................................................................
Date ............................................................................

Send to:
President Barack Obama
The White House,
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington DC 20500
United States of America

* This campaign has been facilitated by the International Tibet Support Network, of which Tibet Society is a member.

Write to your MP ...
to ask what action the government will take to concretely support the reasonable and practical steps mentioned in Lodi Gyaris statement following the recent 9th round of talks with the Chinese government.

You can also 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.

Write to Opposition leaders and foreign affairs spokesmen to ask what their partys policy will be on Tibet and how they will support the reasonable and practical steps mentioned in Lodi Gyaris statement following the recent 9th round of talks with the Chinese government.

Useful background
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Useful background
Parliamentary Question at Foreign Affairs Questions, 19 January 2010:
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.

EDM 345: HUMAN RIGHTS IN TIBET AND CHINA
03.12.2009, tabled by Hoey, Kate
That this House notes the Foreign Affairs Select Committee's recent statement that there is little evidence that the Government's policy of constructive engagement is leading to any significant human rights improvements in Tibet and China; further notes that the change made in 2008 by the Government to view Tibet henceforth as part of China was made without parliamentary oversight and has failed to lead to the human rights gains in return that were predicted by the Foreign Secretary at the time; recognises that the Government's weakening commitment to the protection of human rights in Tibet in recent years has coincided with a dramatic worsening of the human rights situation in Tibet; and calls on the Foreign Affairs Select Committee to conduct a formal inquiry into the effectiveness of strategies being employed by the Government within its overall policy towards China, to protect and promote the human rights of the Tibetan and Chinese people.
Click [here] to see if your MP has signed this EDM.

Useful addresses

Leader of Her Majesty's Official Opposition & Leader of the Conservative Party
Rt Hon David Cameron MP
House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
Email:
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Shadow Foreign Secretary
Rt Hon William Hague MP
House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
Email:
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Leader of Liberal Democrat Party
Nick Clegg MP
House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
Email:
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Liberal Democrat Shadow Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Edward Davey MP
House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA
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Statement by Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kasur Lodi Gyari
Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen and I, accompanied by two members of our Task Force, Tenzin P. Atisha and Bhuchung K. Tsering,  and Jigmey Passang from the Task Force Secretariat, visited China from January 26 to 31, 2010, for the ninth round of discussions with representatives of the Chinese leadership. This round was held after a gap of 15 months. We returned to Dharamsala on February 1, 2010 and have formally reported today to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche, as well as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.

In Beijing, we had a session with Mr. Du Qinglin, Vice Chairman of the Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference as well as Minister of the Central United Front Work Department, on January 30. We had a day-long discussion with Executive Vice Minister Zhu Weiqun and Vice Minister Sithar on January 31, 2010. Mr. Nyima Tsering, a Vice Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region Peoples Congress, also participated in these meetings.

We first arrived in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, on January 26, 2010. Before beginning our programmes there, we formally presented to the Central United Front Work Department, a Note relating to the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for All Tibetans that we had given during the previous eighth round of dialogue in November 2008. The Note contained seven points that addressed the fundamental issues raised by the Chinese leadership during the eighth round and some constructive suggestions for a way forward in the dialogue process. The seven points include respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity of the PRC, respecting the Constitution of the PRC, respecting the Three Adherences, respecting the hierarchy and authority of the Chinese Central Government, Concerns raised by the Central Government on specific competencies referred to the Memorandum, recognising the core issue, and offering His Holiness the Dalai Lamas cooperation for a mutually beneficial solution.

The Note made clear that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other members of the exiled leadership have no personal demands to make. His Holiness concern is with the rights and welfare of the Tibetan people.  Therefore, the fundamental issue that needs to be resolved is the faithful implementation of genuine autonomy that will enable the Tibetan people to govern themselves in accordance with their own genius and needs.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaks on behalf of the Tibetan people, with whom he has a deep and historical relationship and one based on full trust. It cannot be disputed that His Holiness legitimately represents the Tibetan people, and he is certainly viewed as their true representative and spokesperson by them. It is indeed only by means of dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama that the Tibetan issue can be resolved. The recognition of this reality is important.

We emphasised the point that His Holiness engagement for the cause of Tibet is not for the purpose of claiming certain personal rights or political position for himself, nor attempting to stake claims for the Tibetan Administration in Exile.

We called upon the Chinese side to stop the baseless accusations against His Holiness and labeling him a separatist. Instead, we urge the Chinese leadership to work with him to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Tibetan problem based on the Memorandum.  This will ensure stability, unity and the development of a harmonious society.

The Chinese side laid out Four Not to Indulge In points to outline their position. They also provided us with a detailed briefing on recent developments relating to Tibet, particularly on the important Fifth Tibet Work Forum.  They said the Forum decided to further improve the livelihood of Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region and all Tibetan areas, specifically in public services, such as education, medical services, and environmental protection. Based on the initial reports that we had of the Forum, we welcomed the issues it has taken up to improve the lives of the Tibetan people specially in rural areas. We welcome the fact that the Fifth Tibet Work Forum has looked into the issues of development in all Tibetan areas The Tibet Autonomous Region as well as other Tibetan areas.  It is our strong belief that all the Tibetan areas must be under a uniform policy and a single administration. If we take away the political slogans, many of the issues that have been prioritised by the Forum are similar to the basic needs of the Tibetan people outlined in our Memorandum.

A major difference between the two sides is the conflicting perspectives on the current situation inside Tibet.  So, in order to have a common understanding of the real situation, we suggested a common effort to study the actual reality on the ground, in the spirit of seeking truth from facts. This will help both the sides to move beyond each others contentions.

In the coming days we will be studying the issues raised by our counterparts, including the proceedings of the Fifth Tibet Work Forum and the Four Not to Indulge In points. As we had urged during our meeting, it is my sincere hope that the Chinese leadership will also seriously reflect on the issues raised by us.

Since His Holiness the Dalai Lama has consistently made his position clear on the future of Tibet within the framework of the Peoples Republic of China, given political will on the Chinese leaderships side we do not see any reason why we cannot find a common ground on these issues.  We would like to reiterate His Holinesss continued willingness to work with the Chinese Central Government in this so that the Tibetan people can regain their pride and dignity and the Peoples Republic of Chinas stability and unity are ensured.

We thank our hosts, the Hunan United Front, Beijing United Front, and the Central United Front Work Department, for their hospitality during this visit.

February 2, 2010, Dharamsala

CTA website reprint of statement

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