October 20, 2004
A senior envoy for the Dalai Lama back from a visit to China says talks between the exiled Tibetan leader’s delegates and the Chinese government are now “on a strong footing,” but he called for greater flexibility from China on Tibetan issues.
Kalsang Gyaltsen visited China from Sept. 12-29 along with the Dalai Lama’s special envoy in Washington Lodi Gyari, International Campaign for Tibet director Bhuchung Tsering, and the Tibetan government-in-exile’s additional secretary for information and international relations Sonam Norbu Dagpo.
This was the third such visit and discussion since 2002 between envoys of the Dalai Lama and Chinese government officials.
"Chinese government officials did recognize that contact and communication between the His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government is not only revived but on a strong footing,” the Dalai Lama’s special envoy in Europe, Kalsang Gyaltsen, told RFA’s Tibetan service in a phone interview from Switzerland. “They also recognized the importance of the contacts."
“In comparison with the previous trips, a great deal of time was devoted to discussion of Tibet issues. The discussions were also frank and candid,” Kalsang Gyaltsen said. "So many hours were devoted on frank and candid discussion of the major issues. During the course of discussion, both parties acknowledged the fact that there are major differences on the fundamental issues. The differences are in our views and understanding of the major issues. At the same time both [sides] accepted and realized the importance of continuous contacts, meetings, and discussions to bridge the gaps and seek common ground…”
"We made it very clear to the Chinese officials that the Dalai Lama is
very sincere in seeking a solution that would be beneficial to all including
the Chinese but the Chinese side was not ready to give concessions and be flexible
from their rigid positions.
We made very clear to them that we have been flexible and the Chinese are not. We expressed our regret for [their] not opening up and insisting on their regid stands"
Issues 'on the table'
During their talks with Chinese officials, Kalsang Gyaltsen said, “all the doubts, misconceptions, and different views, concerns, and accusations that have accumulated for a long period were placed on the table for discussion.”
“Now we have to discuss each item with due emphasis on finding common grounds for those issues… To achieve that common ground more discussions are needed,” he said. "It is difficult to predict the end result of this process of dialogue, but we are confident that a stable contact has been established. This is recognized by both the parties.”
The group met with Liu Yandong, Minister Vice Chair of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and head of the United Front Work and other officials.
Lodi Gyari called these talks “the most extensive and serious exchange
of views on matters relating to Tibet.” The delegation visited traditionally
Tibetan areas of Sichuan Province, Guangzhou, Zhuhai, Shenzhen, and Chengde,