Dalai Lama envoys travel to China

By Alistair Scrutton, Reuters

NEW DELHI — Senior envoys of the Dalai Lama are travelling to China to meet the government over the crisis in Tibet, the government-in-exile said on Friday, only three months before the Beijing Olympics open.

After a crackdown on protests against Chinese rule in Tibet, an international diplomatic chorus earlier this year urged dialogue with the Dalai Lama. Beijing abruptly announced in late April that it intended to meet his aides.

“During this brief visit, the envoys will take up the urgent issue of the current crisis in the Tibetan areas,” the government-in-exile said in a statement on its Web site.

Shen Kaiyun, the deputy director of the official government information department in Tibet, said he supported the Chinese government’s move to talk to representatives of the Dalai Lama, but expected the spiritual leader to back his non-separatist words with deeds.

“As early as 1978, Deng Xiaoping said it was not too late to let bygones be bygones, so our policy is consistent,” Shen told Reuters in an interview in Tibet.

“But we have pre-condition — that is being patriotic. I hope the 14th Dalai Lama will back up his words with deeds.”

Tibet has become a flashpoint for anti-China protests that have disrupted the Olympic torch relay around the world and has led to calls for state leaders to boycott the Beijing Games, which open on Aug. 8.

The talks will be the first since violent protests broke out in Tibet in March. It was not clear where they would take place.

Some experts say the meeting will achieve nothing. There have been six rounds of dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama’s envoys since 2002 with no breakthrough.

“China’s main objective is the successful completion of the Olympics,” said Brahma Chellaney of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi. “These talks are just a public relations exercise.”