China hints at talks with Dalai Lama except on Tibet freedom

Beijing: Hinting at resuming talks with the Dalai Lama for the first time in several years, China on Wednesday said it is open for a “discussion” with the Tibetan spiritual leader on “relevant issues” other than independence for Tibet or “greater autonomy” for his Himalayan homeland.
“We hope the Dalai Lama can abandon his separatist stance and his deceptive ‘middle way’ approach,” Zhou Weiqun, head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), China’s advisory legislative body a told media briefing here.
While accusing the 79-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader of attempting to destabilise Tibet by “instigating” self- immolation protests in which over 120 Tibetans were killed, Zhou however said China is open for discussions with the Dalai Lama other than independence and related issues.
“China hopes that in the future he will know that he is doing the wrong thing and correct himself and stop disturbances in Tibet region and can contact us to discuss relevant issues,” Zhou said.
“We will not discuss about independence and related issues with him but other issues we can have a discussion,” he said. This is perhaps the first time a senior Chinese official has spoken about talks with the Dalai Lama who last year had expressed a wish to undertake a pilgrimage to a sacred mountain in Tibet, informally conveying it to Beijing.
However, the Chinese Foreign Ministry spiked any speculation in this regard saying that the Dalai Lama should genuinely give up his attempt to split China and stop undertaking separatist activities.
Talks between Dalai Lama’s representatives and Chinese officials were stalled since 2010 and failed to make any progress even after the Nobel laureate said he regarded Tibet as part of China. Beijing however continues to question his demands like Greater Tibet, which Chinese officials say extends to vast tracts of areas besides calls for self-rule in the Himalayan region with the central government renouncing all powers except defence and foreign policy.  His comments came as Tibetan exiles marked the “Tibetan National Uprising Day”, on Tuesday. Flag waving followers of the political exile protested in India and Nepal urging China to end its “colonisation” in the holy land, a state-run Xinhua news agency report said.
Zhou said central government will not talk about Tibet’s “high-level autonomy” or “Greater Tibet” with the Dalai Lama and called on him and his followers to stop inciting self-immolation among the Tibetan people and sincerely discuss with the central government about his future.
Zhou also said fewer world leaders have met with the Dalai Lama in the past few years which reflected the monk’s growing unpopularity compared to the development and stability in Tibet in recent years and rising living standards of Tibetans. China lodges strong protests with any country and world leader who meets or hosts the Dalai Lama. US President Barack Obama met the Tibetan leader at an inter religious prayer meeting or at a private meeting through the back door to mellow down Chinese protests.
“We hope that the Dalai Lama’s visits will not affect the development of the good relationship between China and relevant countries,” Zhou said. He also said the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama has to be endorsed by the Chinese government and branded the Tibetan monk’s call for ending the long tradition of appointing the top cleric of Tibetan Buddhism through reincarnation after his death, as a “dual betrayal” of his motherland and his faith. “The reincarnation of the Dalai Lama has to be endorsed by the central government, not by any other sides including the Dalai Lama himself,” Zhou said reiterating criticism made by another Chinese Tibetan official Padma Choling two days ago. The Dalai Lama said last year that he does not wish to have a successor, and that the Tibetan Buddhist tradition of reincarnation should cease with his death. “Politically speaking, he has betrayed his homeland. The reincarnation of the Dalai Lama must be approved by the central government. Without the central government’s approval, all would be illegitimate. “Religiously speaking, he has betrayed Tibetan Buddhism and the succession system of the Dalai Lama which requires strict religious rituals,” Zhou said. He said the Dalai Lama had taken a very irresponsible and disrespectful attitude towards the reincarnation, citing the political exile’s earlier claims that his reincarnation could be “a female, a foreigner or even a bee”. “Now he is talking about a termination of the reincarnation,” Zhou said, asking “is it irresponsible to his own faith?” He said Tibet has enjoyed stability since the end of the 2008 unrest in the region. “Now the Dalai Lama has to tout his own religious title to gain attention, which has no future,” he said. (PTI)

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