Envoys of the Dalai Lama have left China after a day of talks with Chinese officials in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen. The talks, the first in ten months between the two sides, ended in an agreement to meet again. The Tibetan side has expressed optimism about the continuation of the dialogue in the future.
Samdhong Rinpoche, the prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile is optimistic about the talks
The first round of talks between the Chinese officials and Tibetan envoys ended without any breakthrough. All one could hear was a confirmation from the Chinese media that the talks have taken place on Sunday and that President Hu Jintao wants future channels of negotiation to remain open.
The talks between the two envoys for the Dalai Lama, Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, and Chinese officials constituted the first contact between the two sides in nearly a year. It was also the first meeting since violent protests erupted in Tibet against China in March. The unrest brought in its wake anti-China protests in various countries and led to the disruption of the international leg of the Olympic torch relay in many cities.
Eberhard Sandschneider, an expert on Chinese affairs from the Research Institute of the German Council on Foreign Relations, Berlin, believes the recent talks are the result of mounting international pressure on China to reopen dialogue: “These kinds of negotiations have taken place in the past. But at the moment, China is feeling the international pressure and is also concerned about its image in the run-up to the Olympics. This initiative to hold a dialogue is an attempt to reduce the international pressure.”
However, despite the agreement to continue the dialogue with the Tibetan envoys, the tone in the Chinese media against the Dalai Lama has not changed. The official media has kept up its rhetoric against the Tibetan spiritual leader and accused him of being anti-china and of using the recent unrest in Tibet to claim independence for Tibet. The Dalai Lama has denied the allegations repeatedly and said that he is for greater autonomy for Tibet.
The Tibetan government in exile has also expressed optimism about the talks and called it vital for a solution to the Tibetan issue. The officials at Dharamshala said that during the talks their envoys expressed their concerns about the recent unrest and Chinese policies in Tibet. They have also put forward certain suggestions, which should bring peace in the region, something that many in Beijing also hope: “Holding a dialogue is a good thing. Not only between individuals, but also between governments. There is lot to discuss between them. The more they behave in a hostile way, the more unapproachable they will become to each other”, as one citizen commented.
The Chinese official media has also indicated that Beijing plans to hold a second round of talks with the Tibetan envoys. But when and where the next round of meetings will be held, is yet to be announced.