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Differences remain with Dalai Lama, official says
By Wu Jiao (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-11-11 08:18

Recent talks with the Dalai Lama's private envoys were "frank and sincere", but serious differences persist, a senior central government official said on Monday.

Tibetan shepherds herd their sheep home after a road blocked by snowstorms on October 26 was cleared by soldiers and relief workers on November 1, 2008. [Xinhua] 

The Dalai Lama side should take full responsibility for the failure of the talks, Zhu Weiqun, executive vice-minister of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said on Monday.

Asked to comment on reports in which the Dalai Lama said he would not follow the so-called "middle way" if the talks failed, Zhu said the "middle way" was aimed at outright Tibetan independence and thus unacceptable to the central government.

The Dalai Lama put forward the idea of a "middle way" in the 1980s.

The Dalai Lama's private representatives - Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen - gave the central government a "Memorandum for all Tibetans to enjoy genuine autonomy" and had pressed his long-standing request for "genuine autonomy" for the mountain region during the closed-door talks in Beijing from Oct 31 to Nov 5, the third this year, Zhu said.

Despite a large number of obscure words intentionally used in the memorandum, the Dalai Lama and his followers have not given up their consistent desire to split the region from China, Zhu told a press conference held by the Information Office of the State Council.

For instance, the so-called "genuine autonomy" mentioned in the memorandum intended to set the central government against the regional ethnic autonomy system so as to deny, restrict and weaken the authority of the central authorities, Zhu said.

The memorandum also referred to a "Greater Tibetan-inhabited Area" and so-called "high degree of autonomy", which "are a pursuit of 'semi-independence' and 'covert independence'," Zhu said.

The central government told a delegation of the Dalai Lama in the 1980s that it was impossible to change Tibet into a country, to have a "high degree of autonomy" or to create a larger Tibet autonomous region.

"However, more than two decades have passed, and they still use this trick to talk in a roundabout way with the central authorities, which shows that they lack sincerity," Zhu said.

Promises broken

In an earlier round of talks held in July, the Dalai Lama's representatives said they had no problem following the "four not-to-supports" put forward by the central authorities, but completely broke that promise, Zhu said.

The four promises were: not supporting activities that disrupted the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games; not supporting plots inciting violent criminal activities; not supporting, and concretely curbing, violent terrorist activities of the pro-secession "Tibetan Youth Congress"; not supporting any argument or activity seeking "Tibetan independence" and splitting the region from the country.

"They absolutely forgot to fulfill their promises," Zhu said. "They intensified sabotage activities and continued to attack the central government."

The door to future talks with the Dalai Lama is always open, Sitar, an ethnic Tibetan official with the UFWD who has long been involved in contacts with exiled Tibetans, said at the same press conference on Monday.

"But the door to Tibetan independence, semi-independence or covert independence will never be open," he said.

Points of principal difference

High degree of autonomy

Dalai Lama side: The Tibetans should exercise full power on culture, politics, education and religion, except foreign policy and national defense. Also, the PLA should withdraw from Tibet, and instead an international peaceful zone be established there.

Central government: That kind of high degree of autonomy would overthrow all existing institutions in Tibet. That would be a return to theocracy.

"Tibet government-in-exile"

DL: "Tibet government-in-exile is representative of Tibetans and their interests."

CG: The central government of the People's Republic of China and the people's government of the Tibet autonomous region represent the ethnic minorities in Tibet. The so-called "Tibet government-in-exile" has been created by a small group of separatists, who launched an armed rebellion in 1959, but failed in their motive and fled to some foreign countries. It has been engaged in splitting activities and sabotage for decades. Its existence is illegal and no state in the world recognizes it.

Tibet as part of China

DL: Tibet has never been part of China. It has been an independent country occupied by the Chinese troops.

CG: Tibet has been part of China for centuries. The central government has exercised indisputable and effective administrative power.

"Greater Tibetan-inhabited Area"

DL: "All Tibetan-inhabited areas should be integrated into one autonomous region", and other ethnic groups should leave the region.

CG: Tibetan autonomous areas were established and defined according to the principles in the Constitution and on the basis of historical, political and economic conditions, and reality.

The so-called "Greater Tibet", which would take up a quarter of China's territory, never existed. Apart from the Tibet autonomous region, Tibetans also live in autonomous areas in other provinces and regions such as in Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Gansu.