Delegation Returns to India 9/27/02

Beijing Visit Raises Hope of New Dialogue With Dalai Lama; Lhasa Trip Planned

Beijing Visit Raises Hope of New Dialogue With Dalai Lama; Lhasa Trip Planned —by John Pomfret Washington Post Foreign Service Tuesday, September 10, 2002; Page A08

BEIJING, Sept. 10 (Tuesday) -- Two envoys from the Dalai Lama began meetings with the Chinese government and will travel to Tibet, Chinese and Tibetan sources said today.

The visit by Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, the Dalai Lama's representative to the United States, and envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen marks the first time in more than a decade that the Tibetan government-in-exile has publicly dispatched envoys to China, Chinese and Tibetan sources said.

Tibetan sources added that they hoped the visit would lead to the reopening of a dialogue between the Tibetan leader and China over the restive Tibetan region. Chinese sources said the foundation for the meetings was set by the visit of Gyalo Thondup, the Dalai Lama's elder brother, to China in August. Thondup, a longtime resident of Hong Kong, has cooperated with the CIA, the Nationalist Party of Taiwan and the Communists in China during his long career as a go-between Tibet and China.
The Dalai Lama's office in Dharamsala, India, said in a statement: "During the visit Mr. Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and the team will also visit Lhasa. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is very pleased that the team is able to make such a visit." U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher also welcomed the visit. "We do see the trip of Lodi Gyari to Beijing and then to Lhasa as a positive development, and we would hope that it would lead to progress on dialogue as well as on some of these other issues as well," he said.

Huang Hao, a Chinese expert on Tibetan issues, said he did not expect Gyari to meet with any senior Chinese leaders because the Dalai Lama "has not changed his attitude." Huang was referring to China's claims that the Dalai Lama wants Tibet to be independent from China. In reality, the Dalai Lama has said he has abandoned any ambitions of Tibetan independence but wants Tibet to have greater autonomy within China.

I personally want China and the Dalai Lama to have a dialogue, but I do not think anything will happen before the 16th party congress," set for Nov. 8, said Jamphel Gyatso, a Tibetan scholar in China. Gyatso, considered relatively independent, said he was concerned that China was taking this step because of international pressure but that there had been no fundamental change in its position.

China's army entered Tibet in 1951 after Beijing's Communist leaders conducted extensive negotiations with Tibetan officials. In 1959, the Dalai Lama fled Tibet for India, where he established a government-in-exile.

China's rule in Tibet has been marked by human rights violations. During the Cultural Revolution, Chinese forces destroyed thousands of monasteries and imprisoned Tibetan Buddhist monks.

In recent years, China has chosen to ignore the government-in-exile and to wait for the Dalai Lama, 67, to die. But in 2000, a young lama, known as the Karmapa Lama, escaped China, fueling fears in Beijing that there now was a successor to the Dalai Lama.

2. Dharamsala Tightlipped
By Kelsang Rinchen, Phayul Reporter

Dharamsala, Tuesday, September 10, 2002 (Phayul) - As the visit of the Tibetan delegation has left many Tibet watchers and Tibetans spellbound Dharamsala remains quite on the development.

The exile government has not made any comments except for what it had said earlier in the press release.

But the Tibetans seem to be really looking to this development as a positive indication of a mutually agreeable solution to the Tibet issue.

Professor Samdhong Rinpoche, the Kalon Tripa has described the visit of his government's team to Beijing as 'a culmination of efforts over the years to reach out to the Chinese Government'.

This is the first official delegation to Tibet after almost a decade of cut down in the relationship between Dharamsala Government and Beijing.

Unlike the previous delegations, this one is looked with great optimism.

Not withstanding the fact that China is usually looked by Tibetans with suspicion for its diplomacy, this marks another positive gesture on the part of Beijing leadership which earlier released some political prisoners of Tibet.

However, the cabinet has issued instructions to its representatives to refrain from responding to queries apart from the announcements made in the statement of Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

The delegation will return to India in the end of this month.

Kelsang Rinchen can be contacted at

3. Dalai Lama's Envoys Reopen Links with Beijing
By Jeremy Page

BEIJING, Tuesday, September 10, 2002 (Reuters) - Two envoys from the Dalai Lama are in Beijing to reopen official contacts with the Chinese government for the first time since 1993, a spokesman for Tibet's exiled spiritual leader said on Tuesday.

The visit by Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, who arrived on Monday, reflected a softening in Beijing's attitude to the Dalai Lama since a major Tibet policy review last year, analysts said.

The envoys were expected to discuss holding further talks, possibly covering a visit to China by the Dalai Lama, but were unlikely to resolve the main obstacle -- Beijing's demand that he recognize that Tibet and Taiwan are part of China, the analysts said.

China said the envoys would survey changes in Tibet and hold broad-ranging exchanges, but also accused the Dalai Lama of undermining the stability of the region and repeated Beijing's preconditions for talks on his future.

The envoys would travel to the Tibetan capital, Lhasa, and leave around the end of the month, said Tenzin Taklha, deputy secretary to the Dalai Lama.

"His Holiness is very pleased the team is able to make such a visit," he told Reuters from the north Indian town of Dharamsala, where the Dalai Lama has run his government in exile since fleeing Tibet in 1959 after an uprising against Chinese rule.

"He has always been trying to start some sort of dialogue with the Chinese government," said Taklha. "He is not seeking independence. He is seeking the middle way, which is genuine autonomy."


China imposed Communist rule on Tibet in 1950, established direct contacts with the Dalai Lama in 1979, broke off official dialogue in 1993, but has maintained sporadic unofficial links.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan repeated that the Dalai Lama must abandon what Beijing says is an independence movement and recognize Tibet and Taiwan as parts of China.

"On this basis, the central government can carry out talks with the Dalai Lama about his individual future," he said.

The Dalai Lama says he is seeking greater autonomy, not independence, but has made no comment on China's other demands.

He has accused Beijing of widespread human rights abuses and swamping Tibet with ethnic Chinese to destroy Tibetan culture.

"His usual stand is that the past is the past and he is looking to the future," said Taklha. "He doesn't want to comment on the historical status of Tibet."

The first sign of a softer stance in Beijing came this year with the release of several high-profile Tibetan political prisoners, analysts said. Then the Dalai Lama's elder brother, Gyalo Thondup, was allowed to visit Tibet.

Analysts saw both as results of a policy review in Beijing last year, when leaders drew up a plan to pour money into Tibet and improve the government's public relations.

They said leaders had been debating whether to wait for the Dalai Lama to die in exile, hoping his movement would disintegrate, or to persuade him to return to prevent exiles becoming more radical and to counter Western critics.

"There are doves and hawks in Beijing and I think the doves are winning," said one Western diplomat. "Beijing will push for the Dalai Lama to visit."

China has also been under pressure from the United States and other Western nations to reopen dialogue with the Dalai Lama.

Washington welcomed the envoys' visit.

"We do see the trip of Lodi Gyari to Beijing and then to Lhasa as a positive development, and we would hope that it would lead to progress on dialogue as well as on some of these other issues as well," said State Department spokesman Richard Boucher.

The Dalai Lama, 67, who won the 1989 Nobel Peace prize for his non-violent campaign against Chinese rule, is revered by Tibetans inside and outside the Himalayan region despite repeated Chinese campaigns to stamp out their loyalty to him.

4. Dalai Lama team visits Beijing
BBC News Tuesday, 10 September, 2002

A high-level delegation from the Dalai Lama's Tibetan government-in-exile has arrived in the Chinese capital, Beijing, at the invitation of the Chinese Government.

The delegation, which includes the Tibetan spiritual leader's representatives in the United States and Europe - Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen - is also expected to travel to the Tibetan capital, Lhasa.

The purpose of the visit is not known but in a statement the Dalai Lama said he was "very pleased" that the team was able to make it.

Correspondents say that although some contact is maintained between the Dalai Lama and the authorities in Beijing, this is an unusually high-level visit.

Hints of progress

The US Government welcomed the trip as an indication of progress in relations between the two sides.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said: "We do see the trip of Lodi Gyari to Beijing and then to Lhasa as a positive development."

He added that he hoped it would lead to dialogue between Beijing and the government-in-exile.

A source from the Dalai Lama's administration echoed Mr Boucher's hopes in comments to the Reuters news agency.

"Lodi Gyanri is in charge of promoting dialogue so the big question is what does the invitation imply?" he said.

Beijing refuses to hold talks with the Dalai Lama himself, insisting that Tibet is part of China and that Tibet's spiritual leader is a separatist.

His elder brother, Gyalo Thondup, has travelled to Beijing several times in the past, but the current visit is viewed as more significant because of the official status of the envoys.

China seized control of Tibet in 1950 - a move it describes as "peaceful liberation" and the Tibetan government-in-exile says was invasion.

After an uprising against the Chinese administration failed in 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala, a north Indian hill station, where he set up his government in exile.

5. China welcomes Tibetan group, but not ready for Dalai Lama

BEIJING, Sept 10 (AFP) - China said Tuesday it welcomed a group of Tibetan officials currently visiting Beijing in a "private capacity", but suggested it was not yet ready to allow the Dalai Lama to make a similar trip.

"There were some Tibetan expatriates allowed to come back to China in a private capacity," foreign ministry spokesman Kong Quan told reporters.

"We welcome them back to China to see for themselves the development of Tibet and other Tibetan autonomous areas of China," he said.

The Tibetan group -- which according to the Dalai Lama's office in India includes several high-ranking officials from the Tibetan government-in-exile -- would mainly visit relatives in Tibet, he said.

A visit by the Dalai Lama, who has been exiled from Tibet for more than four decades, was not in the cards, Kong suggested.

"China believes that in recent years, with the support of anti-China forces internationally, the Dalai Lama has engaged in activities aimed at splitting China," he said.

To bring about better relations, the Dalai Lama must cease these activities, recognize Tibet and Taiwan as part of China, and acknowledge Beijing as the sole legitimate government representing all of China, he said.

"On that basis, China can have consultations with the Dalai Lama on his personal future," Kong said.

The Dalai Lama has appeared to agree to these concessions in the past, but Beijing accuses him of being "insincere".

The team now visiting China includes Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, the special envoy of the Dalai Lama in the United States, and his envoy in Europe, Kelsang Gyaltsen, the Dalai Lama's office in India said.

"I believe they will have a chance to meet with people at all levels and exchange views with them," Kong said. He said he did not know the exact identity of the Tibetan visitors.

"We would like to welcome them. We think it's helpful for them to see the lives and freedom of religious beliefs of the Tibetans," he said.

China, which has ruled Tibet since 1951, has been accused of trying to wipe out its Buddhist-based culture through political repression and a flood of ethnic Chinese immigration.

The Dalai Lama fled the Himalayan region after an aborted uprising in 1959 and established a government-in-exile in neighboring India. He has subsequently been publicly reviled by Beijing as a "splittist".