Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen and I accompanied by senior aides Sonam N. Dagpo, Bhuchung K. Tsering, both members of the Task Force on Sino-Tibetan Negotiations, and Jigmey Passang from the Secretariat of the Tibetan Task Force, visited Beijing from June 30 to July 3, 2008.
Special Envoy Lodi Gyari making a point during his meeting on July 1st with Du Qinglin, Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and Minister of the Central United Front Work Department. To his right is Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen while to the left of Du Qinglin is Executive Vice Minister Zhu Weiqun of the Central United Front Work Department.
We met with Du Qinglin, Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and Minister of the Central United Front Work Department, on July 1, 2008. This was our first meeting with Minister Du who had taken over the present post after the 17th Party Congress. He gave us a brief overview of China’s domestic and international situation as well as on China’s policy on Tibet. We took the opportunity to explain His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s basic approach in resolving the issue of Tibet and also expressed our heartfelt condolences to the victims of the earthquake in Sichuan.
We visited the China’s Centre for Tibetan Studies and were received by Director Lhakpa Phuntsok and Deputy Director Zhu Xiaoming. We had a good discussion with the scholars who briefed us about their research projects. We appreciated the work of the scholars in various fields and had the opportunity to emphasize the importance of scholars engaging in unbiased and independent research on issues such as the history of Tibet, which will contribute to a better understanding of the different perceptions.
We had a day-long discussion with Executive Vice Minister Zhu Weiqun and Vice Minister Sithar on July 2, 2008.
This meeting took place at a crucial time in our relationship. The recent events in Tibet clearly demonstrated the Tibetan people’s genuine and deep-rooted discontentment with the People’s Republic of China’s policies. The urgent need for serious and sincere efforts to address this issue with courage and vision in the interest of stability, unity and harmony of all nationalities of the PRC is obvious. In addition even though His Holiness the Dalai Lama is seeking a solution to the issue of Tibet within the PRC, it is a fact that it has become an issue of great international concern. In this context, we had hoped that the Chinese leadership would reciprocate our efforts by taking tangible steps during this round. On the contrary, due to their excessive concern about legitimacy the Chinese side even failed to agree to our proposal of issuing a joint statement with the aim of committing both parties to the dialogue process.
While the Chinese side finally seems to have realized that their allegations against His Holiness for instigating the recent events in Tibet and in sabotaging the Olympics Games have become untenable, they are now urging His Holiness not to support violence, terrorism, and sabotaging the Olympics. We stated in the strongest possible terms that no one needs to urge us on this as His Holiness and the Tibetan struggle are universally acknowledged and appreciated for consistently rejecting and opposing such acts. While the Tibetan Youth Congress does not support the Middle Way Approach of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and stands for independence of Tibet, we categorically rejected the Chinese attempt to label it as a violent and terrorist organization. His Holiness has repeatedly and clearly stated publicly he is not seeking separation and independence of Tibet.
Throughout our talks we have reiterated to our counterparts that the issue at hand is the welfare of the Tibetan people and is not about the personal status and affairs of His Holiness the Dalai Lama or that of the Tibetans in exile.
In the course of our discussions we were compelled to candidly convey to our counterparts that in the absence of serious and sincere commitment on their part the continuation of the present dialogue process would serve no purpose.
The Chinese side expressed the view that the dialogue process has been productive and that we need to keep in mind that a half-a-century-old issue of great complexity, cannot be resolved in a matter of years.
Guided by the Tibetan leadership’s policy of engagement, we agreed with our counterparts to have the next round of discussions in October and discussed some points that could serve as the basis of the agenda.
We briefed His Holiness the Dalai Lama today. We also briefed Speaker Karma Chophel and the Deputy Speaker Dolma Gyari this morning. On our arrival in Dharamsala on July 4 we briefed Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche.
We thank our host the Central United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party for its hospitality and assistance.
Dharamsala, July 5, 2008