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17september200922On 22 September, a reporter for the German daily online news magazine FOCUS interviewed Zhu Weigun, the vice minister of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Chinese Communist Party, on the subject of Tibet and the Dalai Lama. In the interview, Mr. Zhu named three conditions for restoring the Sino-Tibetan dialogue: the Tibetan central government must explain their postponement of last year's talks; the Tibetan exile government must reform those of their policies which the Chinese strictly oppose; and finally, for the sake of China's friendly relations with other countries, the Dalai Lama must stop traveling abroad.

Before the interview, Mr. Zhu requested that the reporter record his answers truthfully and without bias, and she agreed to this.

The journalist began with, "China's Tibet is an autonomous region. So, how do you define the meaning of "autonomy"?"

The minister answered, "This is a political doctrine as well as a practical issue. China is a country consisting of 56 separate ethnicities. We always treat ethnic issues with equality, unity, mutual benefit, and peace. In regions where the ethnic minority population is highest, we apply the "autonomous region" system. The total population of ethnic minorities in China is eight percent greater than the number of actual Chinese (Han). But ethnic regions where autonomy is practiced occupy only 64% of Chinese territory. One noticably unique aspect of the Chinese nation's expansion is the high degree of coexistence between ethnic groups. For instance, in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, not only Tibetans, but also Manchu, Uyghur, Miao and Chang minorities, as well as Hans, live together. In typical Chinese provinces and cities, such as Beijing and the eastern Chinese provinces, different ethnicities intermingle, and they enjoy full access to social activities and ethnic rights. The construction of a nation differs from one country to the next, due to a variety of cultural, historic and traditional backgrounds. So the practice of regional autonomy also varies between different countries. Each country has the right to deal with an ethnic nation's issue based on a system it deems suitable."

The FOCUS reporter continued, "I want to know what level of rights Tibetans are entitled to in the Tibetan Autonomous Region? And do they have the right to manage the development in their own region?"

Mr. Zhu's reply was, "On the condition that they don't disrupt the decisions made at the General Assembly of the Chinese People's Congress, which is attended by representatives of every ethnic minority, or break Chinese constitutional law, Tibetans have the right to manage the social, economic and cultural development in their autonomous region. Our system of regional autonomy always complements Chinese national unity and integraion. Without integration, there can be no national unity, and then autonomy is irrelevant. Our history has proven to us that without unity and integration, all Chinese ethnicities will fall victim to imperialist nations."

"Concerning the level of Tibetans' rights: in the Tibetan Autonomous Region, more than 70% of all first-degree official posts are held by Tibetans, and 80% of first-degree posts at the regional level. In counties and smaller districts, Tibetans hold 90% of official posts."

In response to this interview, Dawa Tsering, His Holiness's representative in Taiwan, stated, "We showed our good intentions, but the Chinese authorities were not willing to restore the Sino-Tibetan dialogue. This drama is unnecessary. If the Tibet issue had been solved, the exile government would have dissolved as it has promised, and all of its offices and departments would be closed. Until the issue is solved, the Tibetan exile government will continue to function and the Tibetan freedom struggle will continue.

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