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28january20102Dharamshala: The representatives of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government have commenced the 9th round of China-Tibet talks.

On 26 January, Ma Zhaoxu, a spokesman of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that "we hope that the Dalai Lama will cherish the opportunity and respond positively to the requests of the Chinese Central Government". However, the Mr Zhaoxu also pointed out that "China's policy towards the Dalai Lama is consistent and clear cut", meaning that the Dalai Lama should publicly state Tibet is an inalienable part of China, in the same way that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and issues related to Tibet are China's internal affairs which foreign countries should not interfere with.

The Tibetan Post interviewed a number of exiled Tibetan officials, members of non-government organizations and Tibetan freedom activists to gain their view points on the talks, and to understand why the exiled Tibetan government continues to send delegates to China to attend the talks in light of The Chinese government's strict maintenance on it's policy regarding the future autonomy of Tibet.

The Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament, Dolma Gyari, noted that "since the start of the China-Tibet talks in 2002, the Chinese government has maintained a harsh policy towards the Tibetan people and has continually denounced His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. The recent Chinese crackdown on the Tibetan people in 2008 was, and continues to be, very widespread so I don't believe that the Chinese government would readily change their position to benefit Tibet or the Tibetan people. However, whilst preparing for the worst, we Tibetans should not give up hope. It should be remembered that political dialogues between countries takes time to arrive at a satisfactory resolution. I don't believe that this round of talks will bring immediate results but it is important to keep our commitment clear and strong". Mrs Gyari did not make any comment on the Chinese statement.

The Secretary, and spokesperson, of the Department of Information and International Relations, Thupten Samphel, pointed out that "in cherishing this opportunity, and with a greater hope for a fruitful result, our delegates have gone to China to attend the talks. We strongly recommend that the Chinese government base this talk on our Memorandum, which was submitted to the Chinese government in 2008, requesting genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people". Mr Samphel went on to note that "the Tibetan people inside Tibet are not satisfied with Chinese policy, a position which many Chinese scholars and legislators also acknowledge. So, we hope that the Chinese government will review their policy towards Tibet".

Mr Samphel also acknowledged that there is a direct connection between this round of talks and the 5th National Conference on Tibetan Work, held in Beijing recently.

The former Minister of the Security Department of the Tibetan Government in Exile, Alak Jigme Rinpoche, noted that "the talks between China and the Tibetan government in exile are not narrowed down to a single point. We have lowered our demands to gain an autonomous region for the three provinces of Tibet and it is unclear if it can be achieved or not, but we should continue to try our best".

Tibetan freedom activist, Lhazang Tsering, does not believe that the talks will be fruitful in achieving a positive outcome. Mr Tsering pointed out that "the real intention of the Chinese government is to swallow Tibet whole and to do so they need time. These talks are delaying the issue and playing for such time".

The Director of the Gu Chu Sum Movement of Tibet, Ngawang Woebar, and the Vice President of the Tibetan Youth Congress, Dhondup Dorjee, both suspect the validity of the Chinese intention to solve the Tibetan issue with dialogue because the situation in Tibet is becoming more intense and the Chinese government is not meeting the recommendations set out in the Memorandum.

Edited by Tony Collier, staff writer for The Tibet Post International

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E-mail: editor@thetibetpost.com