China says door open for dialogue with Dalai Lama

By Ben Blanchard and Benjamin Kang Lim BEIJING, Reuters

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao held open the door for dialogue with the Dalai Lama on Friday, but revealed Beijing’s deep-seated fears of Tibet’s exiled and revered spiritual leader.

“Our policy towards the Dalai Lama has been clear and consistent. That is to say as long as the Dalai Lama recognises that Tibet and Taiwan are parts of inseparable Chinese territory and abandons splittist activities … then the door is always open,” Wen told a news conference.

The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Communist rule. The People’s Liberation Army marched into the predominantly Buddhist region in 1951.

Wen accused the Tibetan god king of “demanding that all Chinese troops withdraw from Tibet, that all Han Chinese and other ethnic groups living in Tibet also evacuate.” “It is not difficult to see whether he truly hopes for unification of the motherland or is sabotaging unification of the motherland,” Wen told reporters after parliament wrapped up its annual session.

The Dalai Lama is not known to have publicly called for People’s Liberation Army troops or for Han Chinese to leave. The winner of the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize says he wants greater autonomy, not independence, for his homeland.

In January, the Dalai Lama accused China of using a 1,142-km (710-mile) rail link — the world’s highest — which opened last July to flood the Himalayan region with beggars, prostitutes and the unemployed, destroying Tibetan culture and traditions.

Wen said China would pay attention not only to the Dalai Lama’s words but also his deeds.

“We hope the Dalai Lama can do more beneficial things for the unification of the motherland and the development of Tibet,” Wen added.

There was no immediate comment from the Tibetan government-in-exile.

China and envoys of the Dalai Lama have been engaged in a painfully slow fence-mending dialogue since 2002.

Last Saturday, the Dalai Lama said in a speech e-mailed to Reuters that after five rounds of comprehensive discussion, “both sides were able to express in clear terms the suspicions, doubts and real difficulties that exist between them.”

“These rounds of discussion have thus helped in creating a channel of communication between the two sides,” he said.

“The Tibetan delegation stands ready to continue the dialogue anytime, anywhere.”