The secretive meeting between the Dalai Lama’s envoys and Chinese officials lasted only a few hours on Sunday, but China said on Tuesday that it was the beginning of future contact with the exiled Tibetan leader.
“I want to stress that this current contact is only the beginning,” China’s foreign ministry spokesperson Qin Gang said at a media briefing in Beijing. “The central government’s contact with the Dalai side is sincere. As long as the Dalai Lama shows sincerity, it will continue.”
There is no word on when the next dialogue will be held, but an envoy of the Dalai Lama struck a positive note in an interview to Reuters in Hong Kong, calling it a “good first step”.
“We had very candid discussions… we have a good rapport, so that is always very helpful,” Lodi Gyari said before boarding a flight to India.
As China gives itself an international image makeover for the Beijing Olympics, its spokespersons have emphasised that the government’s door for dialogue with the Dalai Lama is open. But they also continue to blame the Dalai Lama for “instigating violence and sabotaging” the Beijing Olympics.
The allegations were repeated again on Tuesday, as the Dalai Lama’s envoys headed back to India to report on the meeting held in the economic zone of Shenzhen in southern China on Sunday. The talks were the first official attempt at dialogue since riots and unrest erupted in the Buddhist mountain region in March, sparking off a chain of protests during the Olympic torch relay in several cities.
“Officials of the central government have clearly expanded on the government’s position. We believe the Dalai Lama’s representatives heard it clearly,” said Qin.
“We hope the Dalai Lama will mean his words and stop disrupting the Beijing Olympics and take concrete actions to create conditions for further talks.”