Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen and I, accompanied by two members of our Task Force, Tenzin P. Atisha and Bhuchung K. Tsering, and Jigmey Passang from the Task Force Secretariat, visited China from January 26 to 31, 2010, for the ninth round of discussions with representatives of the Chinese leadership. This round was held after a gap of 15 months. We returned to Dharamsala on February 1, 2010 and have formally reported today to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche, as well as the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.
In Beijing, we had a session with Mr. Du Qinglin, Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference as well as Minister of the Central United Front Work Department, on January 30. We had a day-long discussion with Executive Vice Minister Zhu Weiqun and Vice Minister Sithar on January 31, 2010. Mr. Nyima Tsering, a Vice Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region People’s Congress, also participated in these meetings.
We first arrived in Changsha, capital of Hunan Province, on January 26, 2010. Before beginning our programmes there, we formally presented to the Central United Front Work Department, a Note relating to the Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for All Tibetans that we had given during the previous eighth round of dialogue in November 2008. The Note contained seven points that addressed the fundamental issues raised by the Chinese leadership during the eighth round and some constructive suggestions for a way forward in the dialogue process. The seven points include respecting sovereignty and territorial integrity of the PRC, respecting the Constitution of the PRC, respecting the “Three Adherences,” respecting the hierarchy and authority of the Chinese Central Government, Concerns raised by the Central Government on specific competencies referred to the Memorandum, recognising the core issue, and offering His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s cooperation for a mutually beneficial solution.
The Note made clear that His Holiness the Dalai Lama and other members of the exiled leadership have no personal demands to make. His Holiness’ concern is with the rights and welfare of the Tibetan people. Therefore, the fundamental issue that needs to be resolved is the faithful implementation of genuine autonomy that will enable the Tibetan people to govern themselves in accordance with their own genius and needs.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaks on behalf of the Tibetan people, with whom he has a deep and historical relationship and one based on full trust. It cannot be disputed that His Holiness legitimately represents the Tibetan people, and he is certainly viewed as their true representative and spokesperson by them. It is indeed only by means of dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama that the Tibetan issue can be resolved. The recognition of this reality is important.
We emphasised the point that His Holiness’ engagement for the cause of Tibet is not for the purpose of claiming certain personal rights or political position for himself, nor attempting to stake claims for the Tibetan Administration in Exile.
We called upon the Chinese side to stop the baseless accusations against His Holiness and labeling him a separatist. Instead, we urge the Chinese leadership to work with him to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Tibetan problem based on the Memorandum. This will ensure stability, unity and the development of a harmonious society.
The Chinese side laid out “Four Not to Indulge In” points to outline their position. They also provided us with a detailed briefing on recent developments relating to Tibet, particularly on the important Fifth Tibet Work Forum. They said the Forum decided to further improve the livelihood of Tibetans in the Tibet Autonomous Region and all Tibetan areas, specifically in public services, such as education, medical services, and environmental protection. Based on the initial reports that we had of the Forum, we welcomed the issues it has taken up to improve the lives of the Tibetan people specially in rural areas. We welcome the fact that the Fifth Tibet Work Forum has looked into the issues of development in all Tibetan areas – The Tibet Autonomous Region as well as other Tibetan areas. It is our strong belief that all the Tibetan areas must be under a uniform policy and a single administration. If we take away the political slogans, many of the issues that have been prioritised by the Forum are similar to the basic needs of the Tibetan people outlined in our Memorandum.
A major difference between the two sides is the conflicting perspectives on the current situation inside Tibet. So, in order to have a common understanding of the real situation, we suggested a common effort to study the actual reality on the ground, in the spirit of seeking truth from facts. This will help both the sides to move beyond each others’ contentions.
In the coming days we will be studying the issues raised by our counterparts, including the proceedings of the Fifth Tibet Work Forum and the “Four Not to Indulge In” points. As we had urged during our meeting, it is my sincere hope that the Chinese leadership will also seriously reflect on the issues raised by us. Since His Holiness the Dalai Lama has consistently made his position clear on the future of Tibet within the framework of the People’s Republic of China, given political will on the Chinese leadership’s side we do not see any reason why we cannot find a common ground on these issues. We would like to reiterate His Holiness’s continued willingness to work with the Chinese Central Government in this so that the Tibetan people can regain their pride and dignity and the People’s Republic of China’s stability and unity are ensured.
We thank our hosts, the Hunan United Front, Beijing United Front, and the Central United Front Work Department, for their hospitality during this visit.
February 2, 2010