The Dalai Lama’s envoys, led by Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, arrive in China tomorrow for talks with Chinese officials, the Tibetan government in exile announced today.
Results from eight previous rounds since 2002 have failed to meet the expectations of the international community.
Mary Beth Markey, Vice President for Advocacy of the International Campaign for Tibet, said today: “We welcome Dharamsala’s announcement as a sign that both sides see some value in continuing their dialogue. But given the context of the continuing repression in Tibet, and an overall backsliding from the Chinese government on human rights, we hope that this time there will be an indication that the Chinese side is interested in engaging in a results-based dialogue.”
Since the Tibetans and Chinese last met in 2008 (October 31 – November 5), there have been serious developments in Tibet including the sentencing of Tibetans on political charges related to alleged contact with the so-called ‘Dalai clique’ in the context of a severe crackdown on expressions of Tibetan identity and an aggressive campaign to misrepresent the Dalai Lama’s position internationally.
Last week, President and Party Secretary Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao presided over the 5th Tibet Work Forum, an important conference that determines Chinese government policy on Tibet. The Fourth work forum convened in June 2001.
Mary Beth Markey said: “The timing of the talks directly after the Fifth Work Forum could signal a new momentum in internal Chinese government interest in resolving Tibet issues that will inform and carry through this round of dialogue with the Dalai Lama’s envoys.”
During the previous round of dialogue, the Tibetan side presented the most detailed and substantive document offered by either side in six years of talks: a memorandum that articulated a concept of genuine autonomy for Tibetans within the People’s Republic of China. The proposal was specifically requested by the Chinese side in the May 2008 round. After the meeting, one of the Chinese interlocutors, official Zhu Weiqun categorically denounced the ŒMemorandum on Genuine Autonomy for Tibetans’ and embarked upon a propaganda offensive against the Dalai Lama’s position (Xinhuanet, China says no compromise on national sovereignty, refutes Dalai’s so-called “middle way” and ICT report, No progress in eighth round of dialogue as Chinese reject autonomy proposal).
A White House spokesperson confirmed on Saturday that President Obama “most certainly” will meet the Dalai Lama this year, and that this has been conveyed to Beijing. White House spokesman Mike Hammer told foreign journalists: “The President has made clear to the Chinese government that we intend to meet with the Dalai Lama, it has been his every intention.”