Tibetan talks shrouded in secrecy
With the Beijing Olympics poised to open next month, China went into a huddle with two envoys of the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama, but refused to disclose the agenda, timing and even the venue of the talks.
This seventh round of talks begun after intense international pressure from the US and the European Union on Beijing to negotiate with the Tibetan government-in-exile. French President Nicolas Sarkozy recently said he may attend the Olympics opening ceremony if the talks made progress.
“Officials of the central government will make contact with the Dalai Lama’s representatives. I have no more details,” foreign ministry spokesperson Liu Jianchao told the media on Tuesday.
Relations between Tibet’s exiled government and Beijing sank to a new low in mid-March after the worst anti-China unrest in 20 years spread across the Himalayan region. China blames the Dalai Lama for sabotaging the Olympics through the Tibetan protests that also flared up at several stops of the international torch relay — a charge he denies.
Beijing has since lashed out at critics of its Tibet policy. It also imposed a three-month lockdown of Tibet post-March. The last round of talks was held in Shenzhen in south China on May 4. “Tibetan affairs and contact with the Dalai Lama is an internal matter of the Chinese and we oppose connecting Tibetan issues to Beijing Olympics and oppose politicising the Olympics,” Liu said, but added he hoped the dialogue would make “relevant progress”.
A statement from the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamshala, where the Dalai Lama fled in 1959 after a failed anti-China uprising, said he has asked his envoys to make “every effort to bring about tangible progress to alleviate the difficult situation for Tibetans in their homeland”.
Despite the Dalai Lama’s recent efforts at peacemaking with prayer meetings for victims of the Sichuan earthquake, China labels him as a “splittist”. He has recently said he will attend the Beijing Olympics if invited.