May 13, 2008

Tibet: H.H. Dalai Lama Urges China to Open to Media

Sample ImageAs talks closed on Sunday in China, the Dalai Lama reiterated Tibet wish for autonomy only and hoped for a change in the Chinese leadership’s mindset.

Below is an article published by Agence France-Presse:

The Dalai Lama urged China and the international community to facilitate an international media presence in Tibet, in an interview with Polish television Monday [5 May 2008].

Without going into detail of how he proposed getting foreign journalists into tightly controlled Tibet, the exiled Tibetan leader said their presence there was essential "to see what is happening."

He said recent talks between China and his envoys were made possible because Chinese leaders were beginning to be "concerned" at world opinion about the situation in Tibet, just months away from the Beijing Olympics.

But asked whether he thought China was serious or "just buying time" by agreeing to the talks, the Dalai Lama told TVP2: "Too early to say -- I don't know."

He stressed changes in China over the last 30 years made him hopeful for a peaceful resolution to deadly tensions over Chinese rule in his Himalayan mountain homeland.

According to Chinese state media reports, China and the Dalai Lama's envoys agreed to keep the door open on dialogue after talks on May 4 in Shenzen.

Last week a Dalai Lama envoy said a date would be set soon for a seventh round of formal talks with China.

The closed-door meeting was the first between the two sides in over a year and came after global leaders pressured China to reopen dialogue amid seven weeks of deadly unrest in Tibet that have marred the build-up to China's hosting of the summer Olympics.

China has accused the Dalai Lama -- the 1989 recipient of the Nobel Peace prize -- of organising protests in Tibet marred by violence in March in a bid to sabotage the Olympics.

The Dalai Lama said he had supported China's bid to hold the Olympics from "the very beginning" but that it was inappropriate for their organisers to simultaneously violate human rights.

He said he was still optimistic that he would one day return to the Himalayan homeland he was driven out of nearly 50 years ago after China's takeover.

"Oh yes, I really believe in this. The real problem lies in the minds of Chinese leaders. If they will understand, mature -- in a few hours everything will change."

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown will meet the Dalai Lama in London on May 23 to discuss the unrest in Tibet, Brown's spokesman confirmed Monday.

The spokesman played down the political significance of the meeting, stressing that Brown would meet the exiled Tibetan principally for his role as a spiritual leader.

The meeting will take place at the official residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the head of the Church of England, rather than at Brown's Downing Street office.

"The prime minister will be meeting the Dalai Lama on Friday the 23rd of May and, reflecting the fact that the Dalai Lama is a respected spiritual leader," he said.

The announcement was welcomed by pro-Tibet campaigners, but risked souring relations with China, which Brown visited in January to boost two-way trade and investment and cooperation in areas like tackling climate change.

Diplomatic relations between China and Germany were plunged into deep freeze after Chancellor Angela Merkel met the Dalai Lama at the chancellery in Berlin last year.

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