Chhime R. Chhoekyapa, Secretary to His Holiness the Dalai Lama, issued the following statement at Dharamsala, the headquarters of His Holiness in Himachal Pradesh, on May 2,2008:
“His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen will arrive in China on May 3, 2008 for informal talks with representatives of the Chinese leadership. During this brief visit, the envoys will take up the urgent issue of the current crisis in the Tibetan areas. They will convey His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s deep concerns about the Chinese authorities’ handling of the situation and also provide suggestions to bring peace to the region. Since the Chinese leadership has indicated, publicly as well as in briefings given to foreign governments, its position on the continuation of the dialogue, the envoys will raise the issue of moving forward on the process for a mutually satisfactory solution to the Tibetan issue. ”
2. Annexed for background information is a chronology of the past history of contacts between the representatives of His Holiness and the Chinese authorities. This has been prepared and updated periodically by the Dharamsala office of His Holiness. (2-5-08)
(The writer, Mr.B.Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai. He is also associated with the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org )
Sino-Tibetan Dialogue: Hopes and Suspicions (1978-1987)
Mar 1978: In his official statement on 10 March 1978, His Holiness the Dalai Lama suggested that the Chinese authorities should allow the Tibetans in Tibet to visit their parents and relatives now in exile. His Holiness further said, “Similar opportunities should be given to the Tibetans in exile. Under such an arrangement we can be confident of knowing the true situation inside Tibet”.
Dec 1978: Li Juisin, Xinhua’s Head and China’s de facto official representative in Hong Kong, met Gyalo Thondup, elder brother of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and informed him that Deng Xiaoping and his colleagues were eager to meet him and discuss about the problem of Tibet. Li invited Thondup to visit Beijing for the purpose.
Jan 1979: On 6 January 1979, a reception committee to welcome the “returning and visiting” Tibetan exiles was formed in Lhasa, according to a Radio Lhasa broadcast 8 January.
Feb 1979: After seeking His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s formal approval, Gyalo Thondup visited Beijing in late February 1979 in his personal capacity. Thondup met China’s paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, on 12 March 1979 in Beijing. Deng told Thondup that “apart from independence, all issues can be discussed”. Deng suggested that His Holiness the Dalai Lama should send people to investigate the situation in Tibet and said “it is better to see with one’s own eyes than to hear something a hundred times from other people”.
Aug 1979: On 2 August 1979, His Holiness the Dalai Lama sent the first Tibetan fact-finding delegation to Tibet and China. During their visit to various parts of Tibet for nearly six months, the Tibetan delegation found that China’s claim of socialist progress in Tibet had little substance – the living standard of the Tibetan people was extremely poor, economic development minimal, and the destruction of religion and monastic institutions almost total. On their way back to Dharamshala, the Tibetan delegation reported their findings to Beijing. Following that, China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping instituted a five-member working committee on Tibet under Hu Yaobang, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC), to assess the situation and formulate correct policies for Tibet. The Working Committee was also given a task “to work for the return of the Dalai clique and the Tibetans abroad to the motherland”.
Jan 1980: In January 1980, at the meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, the Chinese leaders announced that a new law would be enacted to “realise the right to autonomy” of the minority nationalities.
Apr 1980: In April 1980, the CPC’s Central Committee called the first ever high-level meeting on work in Tibet.
May 1980: In May 1980, Beijing sent its own high-level fact-finding delegation to the “Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)”. The delegation composed of members of the newly instituted Working Committee. While in Lhasa, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, Hu Yaobang, expressed astonishment at the level of poverty in Tibet. He demanded to know whether all the money Beijing had poured into it over the years had been thrown into the Yarlung Tsangpo River. He said the situation reminded him of colonialism. Hu sacked General Ren Rong from the post of the “TAR” Party Secretary and replaced him with Yin Fatang, a Tibetan-speaking Chinese.
May 1980: On 4 May 1980, the second Tibetan fact-finding delegation arrived in Beijing. After spending nearly three months in Tibet, Beijing asked the second delegation to cut short its visit as a result of emotional demonstration of popular support for His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Lhasa.
Jun 1980: On 11 June 1980, the Chinese Ambassador in New Delhi appealed for the early return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. During a meeting with Kalon Phuntsok Tashi Takla, the Chinese Ambassador said, “If the Dalai Lama does not prefer to stay long there, he can return [to India]. The Central Government will respect his decision”.
Jun 1980: The third Tibetan fact-finding delegation arrived in Beijing in the first week of June 1980. Commenting on the current China’s preferential policy to the “TAR”, Ling Tao, Vice-Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and Deputy Director of the CPC’s United Front Work Department, said to the Tibetan delegation, “With his visit to Tibet, Comrade Hu Yaobang has taken a special responsibility to groom Tibetan cadres to provide real autonomy to Tibet. Tibet and other nationalities are different. Therefore, we have developed and implemented a separate policy [for Tibet].”
Sep 1980: His Holiness the Dalai Lama offered to send 50 trained teachers from the exile community to help the educational development of Tibet. He also suggested opening a liaison office in Lhasa to build trust between the Chinese government and Tibetans.
Oct 1980: In a press statement released in Dharamshala on 7 October 1980, His Holiness the Dalai Lama appealed to his countrymen both in Tibet and in exile to look forward and to approach the whole problem calmly and objectively. His Holiness said, “The recent admission by the Chinese government of the mistakes committed, the failure of their policies in Tibet was a courageous step forward but is only just the beginning. We hope that the Chinese government would continue to review their policies thoroughly and respect and restore the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people.”
Oct 1980: The third Tibetan fact-finding delegation to Tibet, led by Jetsun Pema of the Tibetan Administration-in-exile, returned confirming that the standards of education in Tibet was deplorably low.
Mar 1981: In the beginning of March 1981, Gyalo Thondup, once again, visited Beijing. On 19 March, Thondup reported back to His Holiness the Dalai Lama that Beijing wanted the number of volunteer teachers to be reduced and sent first to minority schools in China instead of Tibet, where the living condition was bad. Thondup also reported that the Chinese authorities suggested postponing the Tibetan proposals to send the fourth fact-finding delegation and open a Liaison Office in Lhasa for a time being.
Mar 1981: His Holiness the Dalai Lama sent a formal letter, dated 23 March 1981, to China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping in which he suggested improving “relationship between China and Tibet as well as between Tibetans in and outside Tibet”. His Holiness further said, “The time has come to apply, with a sense of urgency, our common wisdom in a spirit of tolerance and broadmindedness in order to achieve genuine happiness for the Tibetans”. In a separate note attached to this letter, His Holiness agreed to the postponement of the fourth delegation’s visit and the opening of a Liaison Office in Lhasa for a time being. But, he requested the Chinese leadership to reconsider his proposal to send volunteer teachers and assured that the teachers would be concerned solely with education and would not “indulge in any political activities”.
Jul 1981: Gyalo Thondup visited Beijing and met Ulanfu, Director of the CPC’s United Front Work Department, and Yang Jingren, Director of the Nationalities Affairs Commission, on 12 July 1981. Ulanfu suggested that it would be better for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and his followers to return at the earliest. Thondup also met CPC’s General Secretary Hu Yaobang on 27 July.
Apr 1982: On 24 April 1982, His Holiness the Dalai Lama sent a three-member exploratory mission to Beijing with the aim of kick-starting a discussion on key issues. The Tibetan delegation included Kalon Thupten Namgyal Juchen, Kalon Phuntsok Tashi Takla and Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, Chairman of the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (Tibetan Parliament-in-exile). On 29 April, the Tibetan delegation met officials of the CPC’s United Front Work Department and Yang Jingren, Director of the Nationalities Affairs Commission. Yang Jingren handed over to the Tibetan delegation a copy of China’s “Five-Point Policy towards the Dalai Lama”, which was supposed to have given earlier to Gyalo Thondup by Hu Yaobang in 1981. The five points are:
The Dalai Lama should be confident that China has entered a new stage of long-term political stability, steady economic growth and mutual help among all nationalities.
The Dalai Lama and his representatives should be frank and sincere with the central government, not beat around the bush. There should be no more quibbling over the events in 1959. The central authorities sincerely welcome the Dalai Lama and his followers to come back to live. This is based on the hope that they will contribute to upholding China’s unity and promoting solidarity between the Han and Tibetan nationalities, and among all nationalities, and the modernization programme.
The Dalai Lama will enjoy the same political status and living conditions as he had before 1959. It is suggested that he not go to live in Tibet or hold local posts there. Of course, he may go back to Tibet from time to time. His followers need not worry about their jobs and living conditions. These will only be better than before.
When the Dalai Lama wishes to come back, he can issue a brief statement to the press. It is up to him to decide what he would like to say in the statement.
The disclosure of China’s “Five-Point Policy towards the Dalai Lama” clearly reflected that Beijing was only interested in the unconditional return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to Tibet and not at all interested in discussing the issue of Tibet. The Chinese leaders contended that the Tibet issue was forever resolved with the introduction of “democratic reforms” in Tibet and the creation of “Tibet Autonomous Region”.
Jun 1982: A high-ranking three-member exile Tibetan delegation to China returned to Dharamshala on 8 June 1982 after five weeks of talks in Beijing beginning 24 April. The delegation said it had “cordial, free and frank discussions with the authorities of the People’s Republic of China”.
Nov 1982: In November 1982, the Chinese government disclosed the content of their discussions with the three-member Tibetan exploratory mission. In an article, entitled Policy Towards Dalai Lama, published in Beijing Review of 15 November 1982, it said that the three-member delegation sent by the Dalai Lama requested the central authorities “to accord Tibet the same treatment as is provided for Taiwan in the Chinese Government’s nine-point principle” and that “all the areas inhabited by Tibetans in Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan be incorporated with Tibet to establish a unified big Tibet autonomous region”.
Nov 1982: In response to the Chinese statements and commentaries published in Beijing Review of 15 November 1982, the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi issued a press statement on 22 November which said: “According to news reports which quoted latest Peking (Beijing) Review, the Central Chinese leadership seem to have some misapprehensions and misunderstandings with regard to the discussions held in May this year when His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s delegation was in Peking for exploratory talk. …His Holiness is, however, confident that the Peking authorities will sooner or later realistically recognise the reasonable desires and aspirations of the Tibetan people”.
Jan 1983: At the end of a teaching in Bodh Gaya, India, in January 1983, His Holiness the Dalai Lama announced that he would visit Tibet sometime in 1985. This proposal was later officially conveyed to the Chinese leadership by Kalon Phuntsok Tashi Takla when he met the Chinese Ambassador, Sheng Jiang, in New Delhi on 5 February 1983.
Sep 1983: A press release of the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi in September 1983 reported the arrest of more than 500 Tibetans towards the end of August 1983. Many of those arrested were later known to be those involved in contacting the Tibetan fact-finding delegations and in the restoration of Gaden Monastery, near Lhasa.
Feb 1984: The CPC’s Central Committee convened the second high-level National Forum on the Work in Tibet in Beijing between 27 February and 6 March 1984. Held under the chairmanship of the CPC’s General Secretary, Hu Yaobang, the Forum initiated a second phase of reforms in Tibet and decided to open Tibet further by allowing Chinese entrepreneurs into Tibet. The policy later resulted in a chain of protests from the Tibetans in Tibet, who complained that the new immigrants threatened their livelihood and employment.
Mar 1984: His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that the situation in Tibet was far from satisfactory despite recent changes. In his official statement on 10 March 1984, His Holiness further said, “the Tibetan people in and outside Tibet must examine the facts by abandoning speculations and breaking free from bondage of fear. They must struggle with greater determinations to regain the right, which is justly ours and enjoyed by people the world over: the right to govern ourselves”.
Aug 1984: In August 1984, Beijing dispatched another high-level delegation, led by Hu Qili, to “conduct a thorough investigation” of the situation in Tibet. Hu Qili endorsed the policy of opening up Tibet. However, the visit once again confirmed the Central Committee’s intention of keeping a tight control of the running of the region.
Oct 1984: In October 1984, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, once again, sent the same three-member Tibetan exploratory mission to Beijing. The Tibetan delegation met Deputy Director, Jiang Ping, and several other officials of the CPC’s United Front Work Department. At the meeting, Jiang Ping reiterated Beijing’s “Five-Point Policy towards the Dalai Lama” and said, “It will remain unchanged, no matter what happens. Beijing has already made it clear that the precondition for dialogues is the Dalai Lama’s recognition that Tibet is an inalienable part of China. This should be the basis for any dialogue between the two sides”.
Nov 1984: On 28 November 1984, Xinhua News Agency released the document of Beijing’s “Five-Point Policy towards the Dalai Lama” to the public. This was followed by another statement, on 2 December, saying that “the Tibetan delegates doubted the possibility of the Dalai Lama’s visit to Tibet” and that they had once again sought “Taiwan formula for Tibet, inclusion of certain areas in a greater Tibet, and the withdrawal of Chinese troops from the region”.
Dec 1984: On 3 December 1984, the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi refuted the claims made in Xinhua statement. The Bureau said that “the purpose of sending the Tibetan delegation to Beijing was to maintain our dialogues with the Chinese authorities and to discuss mainly the aspirations of the six million Tibetan people and not about the return of His Holiness the Dalai Lama”.
Dec 1984: On 16 December1984, His Holiness the Dalai Lama announced the cancellation of his proposed visit to Tibet in 1985. In a formal press statement, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “As I have often said in the past, as long as the Tibetan people are not fully satisfied, the question of my return does not arise at all. The very fact that the Chinese are insistent that I return and stay in Beijing clearly indicates that there are still problems inside Tibet”.
Jan 1985: In January 1985, the Tibetan Administration-in-exile, for the first time, issued a formal public statement on the Sino-Tibetan talks.
Feb 1985: The Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (Tibetan Parliament-in-exile) rejected the China’s “Five-Point Policy towards the Dalai Lama”. In a statement issued on 5 February 1985, the Chairman of the Assembly said that the Chinese terms are nothing but “a move to reduce the Tibetan cause to the personal issue of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Chinese leaders pretend to forget His Holiness’ statement that the Tibetan people’s struggle is a struggle for satisfactory happiness for the six million Tibetans. The Tibetan people will never be fully satisfied as long as they live under foreign domination”.
Mar 1985: His Holiness the Dalai Lama appealed to the Chinese leaders to make genuine attempts to resolve the Tibet issue. In his official statement on 10 March 1985, His Holiness said: “It is now for the Chinese to act according to the enlightened ideals and principles of the modern times; to come forward with an open mind and make serious attempt to know and understand the Tibetan people’s viewpoint and their true feelings and aspirations”.
Jun 1985: On 8 June 1985, the Chinese government replaced the Tibetan-speaking Chinese “TAR” Party Secretary, Yin Fatang, with a slightly younger, non-Chinese national, Wu Jinghua. Wu belonged to the Yi nationality of Sichuan.
Jun 1985: On 9 June 1985, while responding to the press questions during his visit to Great Britain, West Germany and the Netherlands, China’s Premier Zhao Ziyang said, “Tibet has been inalienable part of China since the seventh century. This is the historical fact and has been recognised by the international community. As such there is no question of discussing its future pattern or status except within the framework of the Chinese territory”.
Jun 1985: The fourth Tibetan fact-finding delegation led by Woeser Gyaltsen Kundeling arrived in Beijing in June 1985. Before leaving for Amdo, north-eastern Tibet, the delegation met with the senior officials of the CPC’s United Front Work Department on 21 June. Responding to the Chinese officials during the meeting, the Tibetan delegate said that as far as the [Beijing’s] ‘Five-Point Policy towards the Dalai Lama’ was concerned, Tibetan people had already rejected it.
Jul 1985: In the United States, in an unusual gesture on Capitol Hill, China’s President Li Xiannian was presented with a letter, written by Congressman Charlie Ross and Senator Claiborne Pell and signed by 150 prominent members of both houses of Congress, expressing concern for the situation in Tibet. The letter, dated 9 July 1985, urged the Chinese leadership to resolve the Tibetan issue through dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
Dec 1985: On 23 December 1985, Britain’s Parliamentary Human Rights Group wrote a letter to the China’s Premier Zhao Ziyang, asking him to work out arrangements with His Holiness the Dalai Lama that accord with “justified and reasonable” wishes of the Tibetan people “to manage their own affairs”.
Jan 1987: In January 1987, Hu Yaobang was removed from the post of General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC). One of the reasons stated for the demotion of Hu Yaobang was his ethnic-sensitive liberal policy in Tibet.
Mar 1987: In his official statement on 10 March 1987, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “It seems there is no desire on the part of China to resolve the issue on the basis of mutual respect and for mutual benefit”. His Holiness further said, “I would like to reiterate that the issue of Tibet is not about the power and position of either the Dalai Lama or the future of Tibetan refugees alone but rather it is the question of the rights and freedoms of the six million Tibetans… The issue of Tibet is fundamentally political with international ramifications and as such only a political solution can provide a meaningful answer”.
May 1987: Gyalo Thondup made an another attempt to revive the Sino-Tibetan dialogue and visited Beijing in May 1987, but only discovered that Beijing’s attitude had further hardened. Thondup met three senior officials of the CPC’s United Front Work Department: Dang Xian-cao, Song Yidang, and Li Cao-ming, on 8 May.
Sino-Tibetan Dialogue: A Row over the Internationalisation of the Tibet Issue (1987-1990)
Sep 1987: On 21 September 1987, His Holiness the Dalai Lama addressed the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus and unveiled his Five-Point Peace Plan for Tibet. The five-points are:
transformation of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace; abandonment of China’s population transfer policy; respect the Tibetan people’s fundamental human rights and democratic freedoms; protection of the Tibet’s natural environment and abandonment of the use of Tibet for the production of nuclear weapons and dumping of nuclear waste; and earnest negotiations on the future status of Tibet.
Sep 1987: On 23 September 1987, Beijing rejected His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s proposal outright. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing said, “We are opposed to Dalai’s engagement and activities anywhere and in any form aimed to split China”.
Sep 1987: The Chinese official media strongly criticised His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s address to the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus. The criticism enraged the Tibetan people in Tibet and served as the immediate cause of anti-China demonstration in Lhasa on 27 September 1987. The Chinese police arrested all those who took part in the demonstration.
Oct 1987: On 1 October 1987, another large-scale demonstration broke out in Lhasa to demand the release of arrested monks and to show solidarity with His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Five-Point Peace Plan for Tibet. The Chinese authorities reacted to the demonstration with violence. A commentary in the Communist Party Newspaper, People’s Daily, blamed His Holiness the Dalai Lama for instigating the demonstrations and described them as serious political incidents stirred by “few splittists”.
Oct 1987: His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed grief at the loss of lives and persons injured during the demonstrations. In his press statement issued on 3 October 1987, His Holiness said, “I am glad that the Chinese government have found in me a scapegoat for the Tibetan people’s demonstrations in Tibet, just as they blamed the ‘Gang of Four’ for the madness and chaos of the ‘Cultural Revolution’. I appeal to all human rights groups to prevail upon the Chinese government to stop the executions and to release those imprisoned”.
Oct 1987: The Kashag formally denied the Chinese accusation that the demonstrations had been provoked by outside forces. In its press statement issued on 3 October 1987, the Kashag said that the demonstrations were a direct result of the Chinese policy of apartheid and their state-sponsored transfer of countless Chinese into various parts of Tibet with an aim of reducing the Tibetans into an insignificant minority in their own country and eventually wiping out Tibet as a nation.
Oct 1987: Gyalo Thondup arrived in Beijing on 2 October 1987, a day after the second demonstration erupted in Lhasa city. Thondup delivered a copy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Five-Point Peace Plan for Tibet to the Chinese leaders and refuted the Chinese criticism that His Holiness the Dalai Lama initiated the demonstration in Lhasa.
Oct 1987: On 17 October 1987, Yang Minfu, Director of the CPC’s United Front Work Department, gave Gyalo Thondup a five-point memorandum, which said that His Holiness the Dalai Lama should bear the responsibility of the consequences of the incidents in Lhasa and reiterated that there was no change in the central government’s ‘Five-Point Policy towards the Dalai Lama’.
Dec 1987: On 17 December 1987, the Kashag rejected the allegations made in Yang Minfu’s memorandum in a fourteen-point reply and urged the Chinese leadership to positively consider His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Five-Point Peace Plan for Tibet. This reply was delivered by Gyalo Thondup during his visit to Beijing in December 1987.
Dec 1987: The US President Ronald Reagan signed the Foreign Relations Authorization Act (1988-89) on 22 December 1987. The act stated that the “United States should make the treatment of the Tibetan people an important factor in its conduct of relations with the People’s Republic of China” and that the “United States should urge the Government of the People’s Republic of China to actively reciprocate the Dalai Lama’s efforts to establish a constructive dialogue on the future of Tibet”.
Mar 1988: His Holiness the Dalai Lama appealed for international support to the Tibetan people’s non-violent struggle. In his official statement on 10 March 1988, His Holiness said: “I have always felt that violence breeds violence. It contributes little to the resolutions of conflicts. I, therefore, renew my appeal to all freedom-loving peoples to support our non-violent struggle for the survival of our national identity, our culture and our spiritual traditions, and to persuade the Chinese government to abandon its oppressive policies.”
Apr 1988: On 5 April 1988, the Chinese government announced, “If the Dalai Lama publicly give up the goal of independence, he can live in Tibet rather than in Beijing”.
Jun 1988: His Holiness the Dalai Lama announced a detailed framework for negotiations with Beijing in order to secure genuine autonomy for Tibet. In his address to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 15 June 1988, he said: “The whole of Tibet, known as Cholka-sum, should become a self-governing democratic political entity founded on law by agreement of the people for the common good and protection of themselves and their environment, in association with the People’s Republic of China.” The proposal went on to state that although Beijing could remain “responsible for Tibet’s foreign policy”, Tibet should maintain international relations “through its Foreign Affairs Bureau…on non-political activities” and “decide on all affairs relating to Tibet and Tibetans”. The proposal further stated that “the regional peace conference should be convened to make Tibet a genuine sanctuary of peace through demilitarization” and that “Beijing could maintain a restricted number of military installation in Tibet for defence purpose”.
Jun 1988: As a gesture of goodwill, Kalon Tashi Wangdi, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Representative in New Delhi, gave an advance copy of the statement to the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi on 14 June 1988, a day before His Holiness the Dalai Lama announced it in Strasbourg. In a meeting with Bei Chanyi, the Embassy Charge d’Affairs, and his colleagues (Wangdu and Yonten), Tashi Wangdi asked the Chinese government to start the talks soon.
Jun 1988: On 23 June 1988, China’s Foreign Ministry, at a regular press briefing in Beijing, said that it rejected “independence, semi-independence or even independence in disguised form” for Tibet. On the same day, the Chinese Embassy in Berne, Switzerland, issued a press statement saying that “China’s sacred sovereignty over Tibet cannot be denied” and that “it would not bow to foreign pressure”.
Jul 1988: The first open condemnation of the Strasbourg Proposal came from the Chinese mission in Washington, D.C. The mission’s spokesperson, Zheng Wanzhen, said that the Dalai Lama’s proposal “distorts history, twist reality, negates Tibet as an inalienable part of China and denies the Chinese government’s sacred sovereignty over Tibet”.
Jul 1988: On 27 July 1988, the Tibetan Administration-in-exile issued a press statement, naming the members of the proposed Tibetan negotiating team. The statement said that the negotiating team would be headed by Tashi Wangdi, Kalon for Information and Security, and Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, Deputy Kalon for Culture, Religion and Health. Other members included Jigme Lhundup (Alak Jigme Rinpoche), Deputy Kalon for Security; Wangdu Dorjee, Former Kalon; Sonam Topgyal, Secretary of the Office of Information and International Relations; and Lhamo Tsering, Former Additional Secretary of the Security Office. The statement said that the team would be assisted by Pema Gyalpo, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Representative in Tokyo; Kelsang Gyaltsen, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Representative in Geneva; and Michael van Walt van Praag as legal adviser.
Aug 1988: In August 1988, the Beijing Review denied that the Chinese government had ever received any formal letter, cable or oral statement from His Holiness the Dalai Lama demanding discussions with the central government.
Sep 1988: On 21 September 1988, the Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, Zhao Xizeng, met with Kalon Alak Jigme Rinpoche and Migyur Dorjee, Secretary of the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, and conveyed a message from the Chinese government to them which was released to the press on 23 September. The Embassy’s press release said: “We welcome the Dalai Lama to have talks with the central government at any time. The talks may be held in Beijing, Hong Kong, or any of our embassies and consulates abroad. If the Dalai Lama finds it inconvenient to conduct talks at these places, he may choose any place he wishes. But there is one condition, that is, no foreigners should be involved.”
Sep 1988: On the same day, i.e. 23 September 1988, the Tibetan Administration-in-exile responded formally to both the verbal communications of 21 September and also to the subsequent press statement of 23rd. The Tibetan press statement said, “Though we have different views and stands on many issues, we are prepared to discuss and resolve these through direct dialogues”.
Oct 1988: On 25 October 1988, the Tibetan Administration-in-exile in a communication to the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi, proposed Geneva as the venue and January 1989 as the date for the talks. This information was also released to the press in New Delhi in the afternoon of the same day. While delivering the message, Kalon Alak Jigme Rinpoche told the Chinese Embassy’s Counsellor that the message was in response to the Chinese offer of 21 September 1988.
Oct 1988: Towards the end of October 1988, Gyalo Thondup visited Beijing. He met Yang Minfu, Director of the CPC’s United Front Work Department, and his colleagues, Song Yi-dang and Ren Ring, on 28 October.
Nov 1988: On 18 November 1988, the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi formally presented Beijing’s response to Kalon Tashi Wangdi, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Representative in New Delhi. It rejected six members on the [Tibetan] negotiating team and refused to accept “the Dutch person in the team”. It also said, “The Strasbourg Proposal cannot be the basis of talks.”
Nov 1988: The Tibetan Administration-in-exile was disappointed by this communication, as it was inconsistent with the earlier public statements and official communications received from Beijing. On the same afternoon, Kalon Tashi Wangdi, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Representative in New Delhi, handed a memo to the Chinese Embassy. The memo stressed that it should be the prerogative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to appoint whomsoever he chooses to negotiate on his behalf, and said, “Dr. Michael van Walt van Praag is not a member of the negotiating team. He is only a legal advisor. It is an international norm to arrange such legal counsel.”
Dec 1988: On 7 December 1988, the New York Times reported that the liberal minded “TAR” Party Secretary, Wu Jinghua, was sacked. Wu’s demotion came just a day after the statement of the Panchen Lama that the price paid by Tibet for its development over the last 30 years was higher than the gains.
Dec 1988: Hu Jintao, a Chinese Han national, succeeded Wu Jinghua as a “TAR” Party Secretary.
Jan 1989: On 28 January 1989, the Panchen Lama suddenly died, aged 50, reportedly of a heart attack, at his seat, Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, Tibet.
Feb 1989: On 7 February 1989, the Chinese Government requested His Holiness the Dalai Lama to visit Beijing to attend the funeral ceremony of the late Panchen Lama, which was scheduled on 15 February. The invitation letter, dispatched in the name of China’s Buddhist Association, was delivered to Gyalo Thondup, who was in Beijing at the time of the Panchen Lama’s death. Since the invitation came at a very short notice, His Holiness the Dalai Lama could not make this visit.
Feb 1989: The Tibetan Administration-in-exile proposed to send a ten-member Tibetan religious delegation to Tashilhunpo monastery in Shigatse and other areas of Tibet, such as Lhasa, Kumbum and Labrang Tashi-kyil for the purpose of offering prayers and performing a Kalachakra ceremony for the late Panchen Lama.
Feb 1989: On 19 February 1989, the Chinese authorities in Tibet banned the annual Monlam prayer festival in Lhasa.
Mar 1989: On 3 March 1989, His Holiness the Dalai Lama advised Gyalo Thondup to formally deliver in person his response to the China’s Buddhist Association’s invitation. His Holiness the Dalai Lama also advised Thondup to tell the concerned Chinese officials that he would like to accept Yang Mingfu’s suggestion for a meeting. But such meeting, His Holiness said, could only be arranged when the Sino-Tibetan talks start.
Mar 1989: On 5 March 1989, Lhasa witnessed the largest demonstration against the Chinese rule since 1959. For three days, the Chinese police battled with demonstrators, killing a substantial number of Tibetans and wounding many more. The situation almost went out of control as demonstrations starting spilling over to adjacent areas outside Lhasa.
Mar 1989: On 8 March 1989, the Chinese government declared martial law in Tibet in order to bring the situation under control. On the same day, Kalon Tashi Wangdi, His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Representative in New Delhi, visited the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi and handed over the Tibetan Administration’s memorandum, expressing shock and serious concern with the latest incidents in Tibet.
Mar 1989: On 10 March 1989, His Holiness the Dalai Lama wrote to China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, asking him to immediately lift martial law and stop repression on the Tibetan people. He also asked for the early start of talks in Geneva to resolve the issue peacefully. His Holiness the Dalai Lama also wrote to the leaders of the United States, Russia and Japan requesting their support to persuade the Chinese Central leaders to lift martial law.
Mar 1989: In his official statement on 10 March 1989, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said: “I am deeply saddened to learn that there has been further bloodshed in Lhasa only days before making this statement. The loss of innocent lives saddened us very much… Nevertheless, as the Chinese have, unlike before, become more realistic these days, I remain hopeful that the Chinese leaders will see the wisdom of resolving the issue peacefully by negotiations.”
Apr 1989: On 4 April 1989, His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued a press statement asking for the world leaders and international community to impress upon China to find a peaceful solution to the Tibetan issue and to bring early end to the sufferings of the Tibetan people.
Apr 1989: On 12 April 1989, His Holiness the Dalai Lama released a press statement through the Tibetan overseas Offices of Tibet and said that the People’s Republic of China had recently made a number of one-sided statements regarding the negotiations that he had proposed. Citing the need for the Tibetan Administration-in-exile to set the record straight, the statement said: “On numerous occasions, we have conveyed to the Chinese government, through its Embassy in New Delhi, that:
The framework for negotiations, as proposed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, refers specifically to the positive notion of association with the People’s Republic of China; The Tibetan negotiating team has been appointed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and it is within his right to appoint whosoever he considers competent to represent him; There is no foreign third party participation in the negotiating team. There are both Tibetan and non-Tibetan advisors to the team. It is quite natural to seek advice from qualified persons regardless of their nationalities.”
Aug 1989: On 25 August 1989, the Chinese authorities issued a press statement in Lhasa, saying that the Chinese government would select the 11th Panchen Lama “according to China’s Constitution and within China”. The Tibetan Administration-in-exile immediately condemned the announcement through a press statement issued by the Department of Information and International Relations and said, “The reincarnation of a high lama in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition has never been restricted to any place… In the Tibetan tradition, lamas are never selected and appointed but discovered by following certain set tradition.”
Dec 1989: On 10 December 1989, His Holiness the Dalai Lama was conferred the Nobel Prize for Peace. While delivering his Nobel lecture at Oslo’s University Aula on 10 December 1989, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “I believe the plan [Five-Point Peace Plan] provides a reasonable and realistic framework for negotiations with the People’s Republic of China. So far, however, China’s leaders have been unwilling to respond constructively. The suppression of the Chinese democracy movement in June of this year, however reinforced my view that any settlement of the Tibetan question will only be meaningful if it is supported by adequate international guarantees.”
Sino-Tibetan Dialogue: Stalemate in Dialogue (1990-1993)
Mar 1990: In his official statement on 10 March 1990, His Holiness the Dalai Lama urged the Chinese leadership to be more open minded and said, “By their narrow outlook the Chinese are missing the main message which I have tried to convey to them in my Five-Point Peace Plan, the Strasbourg Proposal and the Nobel Lecture which concerns the future relationship between Tibet and China. I am prepared to consider this with an open mind through dialogue…”
May 1990: On 1 May 1990, Beijing lifted martial law in Tibet after 419 days. Welcoming this development, the press statement from the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi said, “We cannot help but to see it as more a public relations exercise in view of the growing international criticism.”
Jul 1990: Towards the end of July 1990, the Chinese Communist Party leader, Jiang Zemin, and the army’s chief of staff, Chi Haotian, paid the party’s highest-level visit to the “Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)” in a decade. They promised new economic incentives for Tibetans and urged continued vigilance against pro-independence activities.
Mar 1991: In his official statement on 10 March 1991, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said: “My proposals have not elicited any official response from the Chinese leadership… If in the near future there are no new initiatives from the Chinese I will consider myself free of any obligation to the proposal.”
Mar 1991: On 21 March 1991, His Holiness the Dalai Lama sent a message to the Chinese government through its embassy in New Delhi, offering his assistance in searching for the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama. His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his desire to send a religious delegation of high lamas and abbots to Lhamoi Lhatso, the sacred lake near Lhasa, to pray and observe prophetic visions in the lake, which would guide them to the genuine reincarnation. After more than three months, the Chinese government replied that “there is no need for outside interference in this matter” and that reincarnation of the Panchen Lama would be found by the officials responsible at Tashilhunpo monastery.
Apr 1991: On 16 April 1991, the US President, for the first time, received His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the White House. During his 30-minute meeting with the US President George Bush Sr., His Holiness the Dalai Lama briefed the President on the situation inside Tibet, including the issue of human rights violations, threat to the survival of Tibetan culture and His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s own efforts to seek a negotiated settlement with China.
Apr 1991: On 18 April 1991, the United States lawmakers gave an emotional welcome to His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the Capitol Rotunda. Speaking to the gathering of Congressmen from both the parties, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that China was unwilling to engage in a meaningful dialogue over the future of Tibet and called on the United States to take a stronger stand on the issue.
Sep 1991: On 2 September 1991, Kalon Gyalo Thondup, Chairman of the Kashag, announced that the Tibetan Administration-in-exile was no longer bound by the Strasbourg Proposal. The Chairman said: “Judging from the official statements and the experiences of our recent contact with the Chinese government, it is clear that the present leadership lacks a sincere commitment to finding a solution to the issue.” However, Kalon Gyalo Thondup pointed out that the Tibetan administration was “open and willing to consider any realistic initiative by the Chinese leaders, which takes into account the historical facts, the changing situation of the world, the legitimate rights and aspirations of the Tibetan people, and the long-term mutual interest of both Tibet and China.”
Sep 1991: On 24 September 1991, the Consulate of the People’s Republic of China in New York issued a press release, which was titled “Questions concerning negotiations between the Government of China and the Dalai Lama”. The press release blamed His Holiness the Dalai Lama of not giving up his position of “independence of Tibet”, and termed this as “the root cause for failure to achieve results in the past contacts and to continue the negotiations”. It also reiterated that “except for the independence of Tibet, all other issues may be negotiated.”
Oct 1991: On 9 October 1991, His Holiness the Dalai Lama put forward a new proposal to visit Tibet in an address to Yale University in the United States. His Holiness said: “The Chinese government’s refusal to reciprocate my efforts to start negotiations has increased the impatience of many Tibetans, especially young Tibetans in Tibet, with the non-violent path to follow. Tension in my country is increasing as China encourages demographic aggression in Tibet, reducing Tibetans to a second class minority in our own country… In view of these developments, I am considering the possibility of a visit to Tibet as early as possible… My visit could be a new opportunity to promote understanding and create a basis for a negotiated solution.”
Oct 1991: On 10 October 1991, the Chinese foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing rejected His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s new proposal and said: “What is most important now is for the Dalai Lama to stop his activities aimed at splitting China and undermining the unity of its nationalities and abandon his position of Tibet’s independence.”
Dec 1991: On 2 December 1991, British Prime Minister John Major received His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his official residence at 10 Downing Street and the two leaders discussed human rights issues and the results of Major’s September visit to Beijing.
Dec 1991: In December 1991, Chinese Premier Li Peng paid a six-day visit to India, which was the first visit of Chinese premier to India since Chou Enlai’s visit in 1956. During his visit, His Holiness the Dalai Lama sought a meeting with the visiting Chinese Premier, which was rejected by the Chinese government.
Jan 1992: On 23 January 1992, the Assembly of Tibetan People’s Deputies (Tibetan Parliament-in-exile) passed a resolution stating that the Tibetan Administration-in-exile should not initiate any new move for negotiations with China unless there was a positive change in the attitude of the Chinese leadership. The resolution, however, noted that the Assembly would have no objection to negotiations if the overture came from the Chinese Government either directly or through a third party.
Feb 1992: On 26 February 1992, His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued a document, entitled “Guidelines for Future Tibet’s Polity and Basic Features of its Constitution”. The document states that the present Tibetan Administration would be dissolved the moment the Tibetans-in-exile return to Tibet, and that His Holiness the Dalai Lama would hand over all his traditional political power to an interim government. The interim government, it explains, will be responsible for drawing up a democratic constitution under which the new government of Tibet will be elected by the people. It assures that there will be no political recrimination against those Tibetans who have worked in the Chinese administration and said, “In fact, because of their experience, the Tibetan officials of the existing administration in Tibet should shoulder the main responsibility.”
Mar 1992: In his official statement on 10 March 1992, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said: “On our part, there will be no lack of willingness or sincerity should the Chinese government show a genuine interest in finding a solution of the Tibetan problem. Even though Strasbourg Proposal, which I made more than three years ago, is no longer valid, we are committed to the path of negotiations.”
May 1992: On 3 May 1992, Gyalo Thondup (who had then retired from the Tibetan Administration-in-exile) informed the Kashag that the Chinese Ambassador in New Delhi had called on him and said that if the Tibetan side was willing to be “more realistic”, they would like to be “more flexible”. Thondup informed the Kashag that the Ambassador had invited him to visit Beijing.
May 1992: On 4 May 1992, the Kashag suggested that Gyalo Thondup should inform the Chinese Ambassador to channel such proposals through the Bureau of His Holiness the Dalai Lama in New Delhi. Thondup then contacted His Holiness the Dalai Lama in Australia. His Holiness the Dalai Lama instructed him to discuss the issue with the Kashag.
Jun 1992: On 6 June 1992, Gyalo Thondup and his eldest son, Khedrup Thondup, arrived in China on a private visit. On 22 June, the Director of the CPC’s United Front Work Department, Ding Guangen, met Thondup and gave a 10-point statement to clarify the Chinese government’s policy. It said, “The day when the Dalai Lama makes an announcement, renouncing the idea of Tibetan independence, we will resume dialogues.”
Sep 1992: On 11 September 1992, His Holiness the Dalai Lama formally wrote to China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and President Jiang Zemin. Along with the letter, His Holiness sent a 13-point memorandum to explain and clarify his views on the 10 points raised by the Chinese government. In the memorandum, His Holiness stated: “If China wants Tibet to stay with China, then it must create the necessary conditions for this. The time has come now for the Chinese to show the way for Tibet and China to live together in friendship. A detailed step by step outline regarding Tibet’s basic status should be spelled out. If such a clear outline is given, regardless of the possibility and non-possibility of an agreement, we Tibetans can then make a decision whether to live with China or not. If we Tibetans obtain our basic rights to our satisfaction, then we are not incapable of seeing the possible advantages of living with the Chinese.” His Holiness decided to send a three-member delegation to Beijing to take his letter to the Chinese authorities.
Sep 1992: On 16 September 1992, the three Tibetan delegates (Gyalo Thondup, Sonam Topgyal and Kelsang Gyaltsen) met with the Chinese Ambassador in New Delhi and gave him a copy of the letter and memorandum. The Tibetan delegation asked the Ambassador for permission to visit Beijing to deliver His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s letter and memorandum. The Tibetan delegation also gave all the texts of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s speeches and statements since 1979 and specifically requested to point out where His Holiness the Dalai Lama had demanded independence for Tibet. The Tibetan side suggested a mechanism of having regular monthly meetings at the Chinese Embassy to exchange views and ideas as a confidence-building measure.
Sep 1992: On 22 September 1992, the Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China released a white paper, entitled, Tibet–Its Ownership and Human Rights Situation. In it, the Chinese government claimed the “ownership” of Tibet with the usual argument that Tibet had become an integral part of China in the 13th century. The paper also said the Central government was willing to hold talks with His Holiness the Dalai Lama any time “so long as the Dalai Lama can give up his divisive stand and admit that Tibet is an inalienable part of China.”
Sep 1992: The Tibetan Administration-in-exile’s reaction to the Chinese white paper was later issued by His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy in Washington D.C. In his reaction, Special Envoy Lodi G. Gyari said: “The dissemination of such propaganda is extremely unfortunate as it makes it clear that the Chinese leadership remains totally insincere in its approach to the issue of Tibet… It contradicts and departs from the stand taken by Mr. Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s in which he had stated that every thing could be discussed with the exception of total independence.” Lodi Gyari’s statement further said, “the document released at this particular time is doubly disturbing, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Administration-in-exile are trying to set the stage for genuine discussions potentially leading to a resolution of the long standing conflict between our nations.”
Dec 1992: Chen Kuiyuan succeeded Hu Jintao as the First Secretary of the regional Communist Party of “Tibet Autonomous Region”.
Jan 1993: On 12 January 1993, the British Foreign Office urged Beijing to negotiate with the Tibetans without precondition. This was disclosed by Alastair Goodlad, Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, during a question-and-answer session in the House of Commons. “We are strongly in favour of the principle of talks without precondition. We have consistently urged the Chinese authorities to get into a real dialogue with Tibetans including the Dalai Lama. We reminded the Chinese of our proposal only yesterday,” said Alastair Goodlad.
Mar 1993: On 10 and 11 March 1993, the Chinese Government called a special meeting, Conference on the Work of External Propaganda on the Question of Tibet, in Beijing. The meeting was attended by Chinese and Tibetan representatives from the “TAR” and Tibetan autonomous districts and prefectures of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Yunnan. The 30-page conference document, which was smuggled out of China and released later on 15 November 1993 by the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet, detailed the Chinese government’s aggressive propaganda offensive to sanitise its occupation and oppression of Tibet and “eradicate…divide and destroy” the international supporters of the Dalai Lama.
Apr 1993: On 27 April 1993, the United States President Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore met His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the White House and discussed issues relating to Tibet. Commenting on the meeting, the President said: “The administration continues to urge Beijing and the Dalai Lama to revive a dialogue between them and presses China to address human rights abuses in Tibet.”
May 1993: On 26 May 1993, the British Government’s Far Eastern Department issued its policy paper on Tibet. The paper stated: “We have stressed to the Chinese authorities the need for fuller autonomy in Tibet. We believe that a solution to the problem of Tibet can best be found through dialogue between the Chinese government and the Tibetan people including the Dalai Lama. It is disappointing that despite both sides’ stated willingness to enter into dialogue, talks have not yet taken place. We will continue to encourage the Chinese authorities to begin a dialogue without preconditions.”
Jun 1993: On 1 June 1993, the European community and its member states issued a joint statement from Copenhagen on a weeklong visit to Tibet in May 1993 by their Heads of Mission and senior diplomats in Beijing. It said that the EU community and its members states believed that the problem of Tibet could be best resolved through dialogue between the Chinese authorities and the representatives of the Tibetan people, including its spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, and urged both sides to engage in dialogue without preconditions.
Jun 1993: On 7 June 1993, the Tibetan Administration-in-exile’s definitive response to the China’s white paper on Tibet, entitled, Tibet: Proving Truth from Facts, was released by Kalon Tashi Wangdi at a press conference in New Delhi.
Jul 1993: In July 1993, the long overdue visit of a Tibetan delegation to deliver His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s letter and memorandum addressed to China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and President Jiang Zemin materialised. The Chinese government accepted only two delegates, namely Kalon Gyalo Thondup and Sonam Topgyal, Secretary for Information and International Relations of the Tibetan Administration-in-exile. The Tibetan delegation met Wang Caogo, Director of the CPC’s United Front Work Department, on 14 July.
Jul 1993: In late July 1993, the delegation returned to Dharamshala, considerably encouraged by their impression in China. Kalon Gyalo Thondup informed the Tibetan Parliament-in-exile that there had been a change in the Chinese attitude, although not all the members of the Kashag were convinced of this.
Aug 1993: On 25 August 1993, quoting a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Xinhua News Agency said: “The affairs of Tibet are an internal business of China’s and the door of negotiations between the central government and the Dalai Lama remains widely open. Except independence of Tibet, all other questions can be negotiated.” At the same time, the Reuters’ report from New Delhi quoted Chinese Ambassador Cheng Ruisheng as having said that early talks with the Tibetan leaders were not likely. In the same month, China severed all formal channels of communication with Dharamshala.
Sino-Tibetan Dialogue: Confrontation (1994-2001)
Mar 1994: In his official statement on 10 March 1994, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed his concern at the lack of positive response from the Chinese government to his initiatives. While proposing to consult his people on the future course of the freedom struggle, His Holiness said in the statement: “Whatever the outcome of such conclusion, it will serve as a guideline for our future dealings with China and the reorientation of the course of our freedom struggle… I continue to remain committed to finding a peaceful and negotiated solution to the issue of Tibet with the Chinese government directly.”
Apr 1994: On 28 April 1994, His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with the US President Bill Clinton and Vice-President Al Gore. He also had a separate meeting with the US National Security Advisor Anthony Lake. The White House release said that the meeting was aimed to discuss efforts to initiate dialogue with the Chinese leadership and to inquire about efforts to preserve Tibetan religion and culture.
Jul 1994: From 20 to 23 July 1994, the Chinese government convened the “Third Forum on Work in Tibet” in Beijing and decided to follow a hardline policy on Tibet. The Propaganda Committee of the “TAR” Communist Party summarised the decisions of the Third Work Forum in a document for internal distribution among CPC cadres, entitled, A Golden Bridge Leading Into a New Era. The document revealed that the Chinese government was no longer seriously interested in dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama or in his return.
Mar 1995: In his official statement on 10 March 1995, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “I have consistently and sincerely made attempts to engage the Chinese government in earnest negotiations over the future of Tibet. Regrettably China has rejected my proposals for a negotiated resolution of our problem. Instead she has set the pre-condition that I formally recognise Tibet to be ‘an inseparable part of China’ before any negotiations can start.” His Holiness suggested that the true nature of the historical relationship of Tibet and China is best left for Tibetan and Chinese historians to study objectively, and said, “I also encourage other scholars, as well as international jurists and their institutions, to study the history of Tibet and draw their unbiased conclusions.”
May 1995: On 14 May 1995, His Holiness the Dalai Lama formally recognised Gendun Choekyi Nyima, a six-year old boy from a semi-nomadic family in Tibet, as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama. Just before making the public announcement, His Holiness the Dalai Lama informed Beijing of his intention through Gyalo Thondup.
May 1995: On 16 May 1995, two days after His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s announcement, the Chinese government rejected the choice. A spokesman for the State Council’s Bureau for Religious Affairs described His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s nomination as “totally illegal and invalid”. On the same day, Chatrel Rinpoche, the leader of the Search Committee of the Panchen Lama’s reincarnation, was detained in Chengdu along with his assistant Jampa Chungla, for “colluding with the Dalai Lama.” Later, on 21 April 1997, the Chinese authorities sentenced Chatrel Rinpoche with imprisonment of five years and his assistants, Jampa Chungla and Samdrup, received imprisonment of four years and two years respectively. Similarly, the 11th Panchen Lama, Gendun Choekyi Nyima, along with his family, was moved to an unknown location, where he still remains under Chinese custody.
Jul 1995: In July 1995, the “TAR” Party Secretary, Chen Kuiyuan, criticised His Holiness the Dalai Lama as “not only reactionary politically, but also a religious renegade who degenerated into betraying Buddhism”, and called upon Tibetans to “mercilessly expose and denounce the Dalai Lama’s conspiracy and criminal acts.”
Nov 1995: On 29 November 1995, the Chinese government announced Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama and vilified Gendun Choekyi Nyima.
Dec 1995: His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued a public statement stating that his recognition of the Panchen Lama’s reincarnation could not be changed. His Holiness said: “On several occasions in the past years I have approached the Chinese Government in this matter without success. Last month again I appealed directly to the Chinese President Jiang Zemin to extend his government’s recognition to the young Panchen Lama. I had hoped that a personal appeal form my side might facilitate a gesture of goodwill from the Chinese Government. …It is unfortunate that the Chinese Government has chosen to politicise this issue and to appoint a rival Panchen Lama.”
Jan 1996: In January 1996, the Chinese authorities in Tibet labelled the photographs of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Gendun Choekyi Nyima as “reactionary literature” and imposed a strict ban on it.
Feb 1996: In February 1996, Xizang Ribao (Tibet Daily) carried a series of reports blaming the Dalai Lama for unrest in Tibet; calling for the intensification of propaganda offensive against the influence of the Dalai Lama; and warning monasteries and nunneries where monks and nuns involved in political unrest to face their closure.
Mar 1996: Despite the tragic developments in Tibet, His Holiness the Dalai Lama reiterated that he was committed to the spirit of the middle-way approach. In his official statement on 10 March 1996, His Holiness said: “We wish to establish a sustainable relationship with China based on mutual respect, mutual benefit and friendship. In doing so, we will think not only about the fundamental interests of the Tibetan people, but also take seriously the consideration of China’s security concerns and her economic interests.”
Jul 1996: In Tibet, the Chinese authorities launched three major political campaigns of “Patriotic Education”, “Spiritual Civilisation”, and “Strike Hard” and stepped up repression even further. Whilst “Patriotic Education” and “Spiritual Civilisation” are tailored to undermine Tibetan religion, culture and language, “Strike Hard” is targeted against Tibetan political activism; this ranges from speaking to foreigners to possessing publications produced by the Tibetan Administration-in-exile and participating in peaceful protest demonstration.
Sep 1996: On 30 September 1996, the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo had been sentenced to three years in labour camp for writing a joint letter addressed to China’s President Jiang Zemin supporting the Tibetan self-determination and also calling for dialogue with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He was the first Chinese to be sentenced for speaking up for Tibet.
Oct 1996: In October 1996, His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Europe, where he addressed the three bodies of the European Union. In his address to the European Parliament, His Holiness the Dalai Lama urged for their intensified efforts to help facilitate an early and peaceful resolution of the Tibetan issue through negotiation.
Nov 1996: On 28 November 1996, coinciding with President Jiang Zemin’s eight-day visit to India, His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued a statement urging the Chinese President to reverse China’s repressive policy in Tibet. His Holiness the Dalai Lama said: “Although I have a strong desire to meet President Jiang Zemin while he is in India it is obvious that in view of the new wave of repression and the ongoing campaign to denounce me inside Tibet the prospect of such a meeting is unrealistic. I, therefore, take this opportunity to urge President Jiang Zemin to reverse China’s repressive policy in Tibet.”
Jan 1997: Around 240 exile Tibetan representatives took part in a three-day workshop in Dharamshala to discuss a proposed referendum on the future course of the Tibetan struggle. His Holiness the Dalai Lama had proposed a referendum in his 10th March statements of 1994 and 1995.
Feb 1997: On 19 February 1997, China’s paramount leader Deng Xiaoping died in Beijing after a long absence from a public view. In his statement issued on the same day, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that as soon as the Tibetans receive a positive indication from Beijing, he was ready to enter into negotiations anytime and anywhere without preconditions. His Holiness further said, “I very much regret that serious negotiations on the issue of Tibet could not take place during Mr. Deng Xiaoping’s life time. The absence of Mr. Deng provides new opportunities and challenges for both the Tibetans and the Chinese. I hope the Chinese leadership will realise the wisdom of resolving the issue of Tibet through negotiations in a spirit of reconciliation and compromise. True stability must be based on mutual trust, consent and benefit for all concerned, not on the use of force.”
Feb 1997: On 24 February 1997, His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued another statement, explaining the purpose of his visit to Taiwan in March 1997. The statement read: “Although my visit to Taiwan will be religious in nature, there are some who wish to interpret it politically. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to reiterate that the Tibetan struggle is neither anti-Chinese nor anti-China. Over the past many years, I have sought a peaceful resolution of the Tibetan problem through negotiations with the Chinese leadership in Beijing. I have proposed a framework for negotiations for self-rule for Tibet. These initiatives have been taken in a genuine spirit of reconciliation and compromise. However, the government of the People’s Republic of China has so far not responded positively.”
Mar 1997: On 10 March 1997, His Holiness the Dalai Lama accused China of employing a policy of cultural genocide in Tibet. In his official statement, His Holiness said: “These new measures in the field of culture, religion and education, coupled with the unabated influx of Chinese immigrants to Tibet, which has the effect of overwhelming Tibet’s distinct cultural and religious identity and reducing the Tibetans to an insignificant minority in their own country, amounts to a policy of cultural genocide.”
Mar 1997: From 22 to 27 March 1997, His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Taiwan, where he received a tumultuous reception from Taiwanese people. During this visit, His Holiness the Dalai Lama met with Taiwanese President Lee Teng-hui, Vice President and Premier and also with the leaders of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party.
May 1997: On 25 May 1997, His Holiness the Dalai Lama told a gathering in New York that should his death occur in exile, he would be reborn outside Tibet. His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “The reincarnation will definitely not come under Chinese control; it will be outside, in the free world. This I can say with absolute certainty.”
Jun 1997: In June 1997, the Chinese authorities called for five-pronged strategy to combat the “Dalai clique’s international campaign” against its rule in Tibet.
Oct 1997: China’s President Jiang Zemin paid an eight-day visit to the United Sates from 26 October 1997. During his 45-minutes speech at the Harvard University in Boston, a Harvard student asked why Beijing had refused to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama even though the Tibetan leader had no longer demanded Tibet’s independence. Jiang Zemin replied: “Our policy towards the 14th Dalai Lama is a very clear-cut one. He must recognise publicly that Tibet is an inalienable part of the People’s Republic of China, that he must state publicly to give up Tibet’s independence and that he must stop all activities aimed at splitting the motherland.”
Oct 1997: While reacting to President Jiang Zemin’s statement, Tempa Tsering, Secretary of the Department of Information and International Relations of the Tibetan Administration-in-exile commented that it was the same old wine in a new bottle. He said: “His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been on record saying that he would negotiate with the Chinese leadership to resolve the future status of Tibet anywhere, anytime but without preconditions… By demanding that His Holiness the Dalai Lama accept that Tibet has been an inalienable part of China, President Jiang Zemin is in effect demanding that His Holiness rewrite the history of Tibet. His Holiness can never do this. His Holiness is on record saying that stating this would constitute an enormous historical lie and he as a Buddhist monk would have no part in it… However, the fact that the highest Chinese leader has publicly commented on the issue of Tibet may be an indication of the seriousness with which the Chinese leadership takes the Tibetan issue and this is a welcome first step.”
Oct 1997: On 31 October 1997, the US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright named a top assistant, Gregory B. Craig, as the Special Coordinator for Tibet. China criticised the United States’ move, calling it as an “unacceptable” interference in China’s internal affairs. Later, Gregory Craig outlined his mission as the Special Coordinator for Tibet as to “preserve the unique religious, cultural and linguistic heritage of Tibet and to promote a substantive dialogue between China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives.”
Mar 1998: In his official statement on 10 March 1998, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “I continue to believe that my ‘Middle-Way Approach’ is the most realistic and pragmatic course to resolve the issue of Tibet peacefully. This approach meets the vital needs of the Tibetan people while ensuring the unity and stability of the People’s Republic of China. I will, therefore, continue to pursue this course of approach with full commitment and make earnest effort to reach out to the Chinese leadership.”
Jun 1998: On 27 June 1998, in a joint press conference in Beijing, which was telecast live by the China Central Television (CCTV), the US President Bill Clinton urged the Chinese government to open a dialogue on Tibet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. President Clinton said: “I urge President Jiang [Zemin] to assume a dialogue with the Dalai Lama in return for the recognition that Tibet is a part of China and recognition of the unique cultural and religious heritage of that region.” Clinton also said, “I have spent time with the Dalai Lama, I believe him to be an honest man, and I believe if he had a conversation with President Jiang, they would like each other very much.” In response, President Jiang Zemin augmented the positive aspects of China’s rule in Tibet. He also said, “As long as the Dalai Lama makes a public commitment that Tibet is an inalienable part of China and Taiwan is a province of China, then the door to dialogue and negotiation is open… Actually, we are having several channels of communications with the Dalai Lama, so I hope the Dalai Lama will make a positive response in this regard.”
Jun 1998: On 29 June 1998, reacting to the statements of two Presidents, the Tibetan Administration-in-exile said in a statement: “We applaud President Bill Clinton for asking the Chinese government to enter into dialogue and negotiation with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. We also applaud President Jiang Zemin for publicly recognising the fact that Tibet is an important issue needing a solution and for indicating his willingness to have an exchange of views and discussion on this.” In response to the conditions spelt out by President Jiang Zemin, the statement said, “As far as the question of Tibet’s status is concerned, nobody can change the past. However, His Holiness feels that we should not be encumbered by the past. What is important is the future, for which he stated very unequivocally that he is not seeking independence. Regarding the issue of Taiwan, His Holiness stated during his March 1997 visit to Taiwan that this is a matter, which must be discussed and decided between China and the people of Taiwan. Confrontation and the use of military force will help neither China, nor Taiwan.”
Sep 1998: On 25 September 1998, French Prime Minister Lionel Jospin, on the second day of his official visit to China, delivered the Chinese President a message from His Holiness the Dalai Lama. He urged President Jiang Zemin to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and said he was prepared to help arrange a dialogue if the Chinese leaders were willing. In response, President Jiang Zemin had reiterated that he was willing to meet His Holiness the Dalai Lama if the exile Tibetan leader recognised China’s rule over Tibet. Jiang Zemin was reported to have said that there was “nothing new” in recent Tibetan proposals, suggesting thereby that the ball was in the Tibetan court.
Oct 1998: On 6 October 1998, British Prime Minister Tony Blair raised the issue of Tibet with his Chinese counterpart Premier Zhu Rongji, during his visit to China. British Prime Minister said that he hoped dialogue without preconditions could begin with the Dalai Lama to find a solution for the future of Tibet. Zhu Rongji replied that channels of communication were open to the Dalai Lama.
Oct 1998: On 26 October 1998, the Chinese government accused His Holiness the Dalai Lama of being “insincere and of ignoring official channels of communication.” The Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Tang Guoqiang, said: “The central government’s position on negotiations with the Dalai Lama is consistent and clear. That is, the Dalai Lama must give up his proposal of independence for Tibet and stop activities to split the motherland… He must make public announcements to recognise Tibet is an inalienable part of China, that Taiwan is a province and that the government of People’s Republic of China is the sole government representing the whole China.”
Nov 1998: Seven Nobel Peace Prize laureates, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, urged China to open formal talks “to find a peaceful resolution to the Tibet issue”, in their joint statement issued on 6 November 1998 at the end of a three-day conference on peace and reconciliation held at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, USA.
Nov 1998: During his visit to the United States, His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued a statement on 10 November 1998 in Washington, D.C. In his statement, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “I have expressed my commitment to the process of dialogue as a means to resolve the Tibetan problem. Therefore, when President Jiang sought public clarifications from me on certain issues during his press conference with President Clinton in Beijing [in June this year], I did not have any hesitation in welcoming his statement and making clear my readiness to respond. However, I do not wish to make a unilateral statement without the opportunity of prior informal consultations with the Chinese leadership. I believe such an informal consultation needs to take place in order to forestall misunderstanding and to receive a positive response from the Chinese leadership.”
Nov 1998: On the same day (10 November 1998), the official newspaper of the Communist Party of China, People’s Daily, carried a front-page commentary accusing His Holiness the Dalai Lama for “playing tricks” and for “insincerity” in publicising the Tibetan issue on the international stage. The daily accused the Tibetans of constantly readjusting their tactics in attempting to split China.
Feb 1999: On 14 February 1999, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that the existing, informal channels of Sino-Tibetan communications had come to a complete halt.
Mar 1999: In his official statement on 10 March 1999, His Holiness the Dalai Lama appealed to governments, parliaments and friends to continue their support and efforts with renewed dedication and vigour. His Holiness said: “I strongly believe that such expressions of international concern and support are essential. They are vital in communicating a sense of urgency to the leadership in Beijing and in persuading them to address the issue of Tibet in a serious and constructive manner.”
Oct 1999: On 25 October 1999, in his written interview with the French newspaper Le Figaro on the eve of his visit to France, Chinese President Jiang Zemin told that His Holiness the Dalai Lama must truly give up his advocacy of independence of Tibet and stop his activities to “split the motherland”. Reiterating his preconditions, President Jiang said: “Dalai Lama must also openly declare that Tibet is an inalienable part of China and recognise that Taiwan is a province of China and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing whole China… Only on this basis will the Central Government open talks with Dalai Lama over his personal future.”
Apr 2000: On 13 April 2000, the European Parliament passed a resolution, which among others, called China to start a dialogue “without precondition” with His Holiness the Dalai Lama on the future of Tibet on the basis of the Five-Point Peace Plan. The resolution expressed concerns over the threat to the “Tibetan cultural and spiritual heritage” due to “large-scale transfer of ethnic Chinese to Tibet” and over the “continuing and widespread restrictions on fundamental freedoms.”
Jul 2000: From 3 to 18 July 2000, Gyalo Thondup visited China after informing His Holiness the Dalai Lama. While in Beijing, Thondup met with three key officials of the CPC’s United Front Work Department–Zhu Xiaoming, Li Dezhu and Wang Zhaoguo.
Mar 2001: On 6 March 2001, Chinese Vice-President Hu Jintao told Tibetan participants to the Fourth Session of the 9th China’s National People’s Congress that Beijing would stamp out separatism and curb “illegal” religious activities in Tibet. According to the People’s Daily (6 March 2001), Hu called for “cracking down hard on separatist activities and enhancing patriotic education of teenagers.”
Mar 2001: In his official statement on 10 March 2001, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said that Beijing had hardened its attitude and that it lacked political will to resolve the Tibetan problem. His Holiness said: “Last July, my elder brother, Gyalo Thondup, once more made a personal visit to Beijing and brought back a message from the United Front Work Department reiterating the well-known position of the leadership in Beijing on relations with me. In September of the same year we communicated through the Chinese embassy in New Delhi our wish to send a delegation to Beijing to deliver a detailed memorandum outlining my thinking on the issue of Tibet and to explain and discuss the points raised in the memorandum. I sincerely hoped that this development would lead to an opening for a realistic approach to the Tibetan issue. I reasoned with the Chinese leadership that through face-to-face meetings we would succeed in clarifying misunderstandings and overcoming distrust. I expressed the strong belief that once this is achieved then a mutually acceptable solution of the problem can be found without much difficulty.”
Mar 2001: On 31 March 2001, His Holiness the Dalai Lama began a 10-day visit to Taiwan at the invitation of the Chinese Buddhist Association of Taiwan. Before departure from Dharamshala, His Holiness told the press on 28 March that China had no cause to be concerned about his 10-day visit. His Holiness further said, “My main goal is to meet the Buddhist community there and explain about Tibetan Buddhism. …if they [Chinese leaders] know the reality and look at my activities from a wider perspective, then I don’t see any reason for them to be concerned.”
Apr 2001: On 1 April 2001, the Xinhua News Agency’s commentary termed it “a political visit” driven by separatist motives the Dalai Lama shared with officials in Taipei. It said: “the Dalai Lama’s second Taiwan trip will certainly be a political visit for collaborating with ‘Taiwan independence forces’ to separate the motherland, regardless of the 10-day schedule which includes many preaching and religious ceremonies.”
Sino-Tibetan Dialogue: Renewed Contacts (2002- )
Jan 2002: In January 2002, the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama met outside of China with Chinese officials responsible for Tibet policy. This was the first face-to-face meeting since August 1993.
Mar 2002: In his official statement on 10 March 2002, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “I remain committed to the process of dialogue. As soon as there is a positive signal from Beijing, my designated representatives stand ready to meet with officials of the Chinese government anywhere, anytime.”
Sep 2002: On the occasion of the 42nd Anniversary of the Tibetan Democracy Day on 2 September 2002, the Kashag of the Tibetan Administration-in-exile, in a statement, urged all the Tibetans to extend their support towards the realization of a united existence of the three provinces with genuine autonomy and proper democratic system through a negotiated settlement with leadership of Beijing on the basis of His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Five Point Peace Plan and Strasbourg Proposal.
Sep 2002: The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued a press release in Dharamshala on 9 September 2002 informing about the visit of a Tibetan delegation to Beijing and Lhasa. The press statement said, “His Holiness the Dalai Lama is very pleased that the team is able to make such a visit.”
Sep 2002: A four-member Tibetan delegation headed by Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lodi G. Gyari, left for China on 9 September 2002. The Special Envoy was accompanied by Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen and two senior assistants, Sonam N. Dagpo and Bhuchung K. Tsering. The visit was hosted by the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and came after a decade long deadlock in the relation between Beijing and Dharamshala. The Tibetan delegation visited Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and the Tibetan capital Lhasa and areas of Shigatse and Nyingtri, and met officials in Beijing, Lhasa as well as in other areas. In Beijing, the Tibetan delegation met Wang Zhaoguo, Vice-Chair of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and head of the CPC’s United Front Work Department; Li De Zhu, Minister for Nationalities Affairs and Deputy Head of the United Front Work Department; and Ngapo Ngawang Jigme, Vice-Chair of the CPPCC. The purpose of the visit was two-fold: One, to re-establish direct contact with the leadership in Beijing and to create a conducive atmosphere enabling direct face-to-face meetings on a regular basis in future; Two, to explain His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Middle Way Approach towards resolving the issue of Tibet.
Sep 2002: While welcoming Beijing’s positive gesture in receiving the Tibetan delegation to China earlier this month, the democratically elected Kalon Tripa of the Tibetan Administration-in-exile, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, announced that the period till June 2003 would be devoted towards creating a conducive atmosphere for building on the new contact. The Kalon Tripa, in an appeal dated 30 September 2002, said, “I want to urge all Tibetans and friends of Tibet to refrain from public actions like rallies and demonstrations during President Jiang Zemin’s visit to the United States and Mexico [in October 2002].”
Oct 2002: On 1 October 2002, US President George W. Bush signed the Tibet Policy Act (TPA) which established in law the position of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues at the State Department with the central objective to “promote substantive dialogue between the government of the People’s Republic of China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives.”
Mar 2003: In his official statement on 10 March 2003, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed happiness over the re-establishment of direct contact with the Chinese leadership with the visit of his envoys to Beijing last September and said, “I had instructed my envoys to make every effort to pursue a course of dialogue with the leadership in Beijing and to seize every opportunity to dispel existing misunderstandings and misconceptions in Beijing about our views and positions. This is the only sensible, intelligent and human way to resolve differences and establish understanding.” His Holiness further said, “It is my sincere hope that the Chinese leadership will find the courage, vision and wisdom for new openings to solve the Tibetan issue through dialogue.”
Mar 2003: On the occasion of the 44th Anniversary of the Tibetan People’s Uprising Day on 10 March 2003, the Kashag, in a statement, said, “The Tibet-China problem, which is nearly 55 years old, has never been about political issues only. Rather it is a problem which is related to the issue of nationality.” Reassuring the Tibetan people, the Kashag further said, “Over the past 44 years of our existence in exile, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Administration have never wavered from our commitment to the goal of a united Tibet.”
May 2003: The Tibetan delegation visited China for second time from 25 May to 8 June 2003. The visit followed the changes in leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) as well as of the Chinese Government and gave the delegation the opportunity to engage extensively with the new Chinese leaders and officials responsible for Tibet and relationship with the leaders of the Tibetan community-in-exile. In Beijing, the delegation met Liu Yandong, Vice-Chair of the CPPCC and head of the CPC’s United Front Work Department; Zhu Weiqun, deputy head; Chang Rongjung, the Deputy Secretary-General; and other senior officials.
Mar 2004: In his official statement on 10 March 2004, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed willingness to meet with today’s leaders of the People’s Republic of China in the effort to secure a mutually acceptable solution to the Tibetan issue. While welcoming the present process of dialogue between his envoys and their Chinese counterparts, His Holiness said, “I consider it of highest importance to maintain the momentum and to intensify and deepen this process through regular face-to-face meetings and substantive discussions.”
Sep 2004: The Tibetan delegation made the third visit to China and Tibetan areas from 12 to 29 September 2004. The delegation met Liu Yandong, Vice-Chair of the CPPCC and head of the CPC’s United Front Work Department; Vice-Minister Zhu Weiqun, the deputy head; Chang Rongjun, Secretary-General; and other officials in Beijing. Both sides acknowledged the need for more substantive discussions in order to narrow down the gaps and reach a common ground.
Mar 2005: In his official statement on 10 March 2005, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “I once again want to reassure the Chinese authorities that as long as I am responsible for the affairs of Tibet we remain fully committed to the Middle Way Approach of not seeking independence for Tibet and are willing to remain within the People’s Republic of China.” His Holiness expressed optimism over the gradual improvement of interactions between his envoys and their Chinese counterparts, and said, “Now that our elected political leadership is shouldering more responsibility in Tibetan affairs, I have advised them to look into the issues raised by the Chinese side during our third round of talks and to take steps to address or clarify them as needed.”
Mar 2005: On the occasion of the 46th Anniversary of the Tibetan People’s Uprising Day on 10 March 2005, the Kashag, in a statement, said, “In essence, the entirety of the Tibetan population having legitimate rights within the constitutional framework of the People’s Republic of China to enjoy genuine national regional autonomy is the legitimate requirement of the Tibetan people. Therefore, the need of such an autonomy, equally and uniformly practised amidst all the Tibetan people, has already been emphasised; not just once but many times. We would like to once again state that this basic principle can not be changed at all.”
Jun 2005: The fourth round of meetings between the Tibetan and Chinese delegations took place on 30 June and 1 July 2005 at the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Berne, Switzerland. Special Envoy Lodi G. Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen, accompanied by three senior assistants, Sonam N. Dagpo, Ngapa Tsegyam, and Bhuchung K. Tsering, met Vice Minister Zhu Weiqun of the CPC’s United Front Work Department and his six-member delegation. Vice Minister Zhu declared that their direct contact with the Tibetan delegation has now become stable and an “established practice.” He also conveyed to the Tibetan delegation that the Central leadership of the Chinese Communist Party attached great importance to the contact with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan side put forward some concrete proposals that will help build trust and confidence and move the ongoing process to a new level of engagement aimed at bringing about substantive negotiations to achieve a mutually acceptable solution to the Tibetan issue.
Sep 2005: The Kashag of the Tibetan Administration-in-exile issued a second appeal on 3 September 2005, which said, “The President of the People’s Republic of China, Hu Jintao, will soon pay an official visit to the Americas sometime in September this year. We would like to take this opportunity to make an urgent appeal to all the Tibetans and Tibet Support Groups to refrain from any activities, including staging of protest demonstrations, which will cause him embarrassment.”
Feb 2006: The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued a press statement in Dharamshala on 15 February 2006 informing about the arrival of the Tibetan delegation in China for the fifth round of talks with their Chinese counterparts. The press statement further said, “His Holiness is pleased that the present round of talks, which began in 2002, is the longest process of continued interaction that we have had with the leadership in Beijing. For the last four meetings, the envoys have had very candid and serious discussion with their counterparts in the Chinese leadership.”
Feb 2006: Special Envoy Lodi G. Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen, accompanied by two members of the Task Force, Sonam N. Dagpo and Bhuchung K. Tsering, visited China from 15 to 23 February 2006. The Tibetan delegation had a day-long meeting with the Executive Vice Minister of the CPC’s United Front Work Department, Zhu Weiqun, on 22 February 2006 in Guilin City during which they dealt with substantive issues. This fifth round of discussion made it clear that there is a major difference even in the approach in addressing the issue. However, both sides remain committed to the dialogue process with their firm belief that the obstacles can be overcome through more discussions and engagements.
Mar 2006: In his official statement on 10 March 2006, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, “The Kashag of the Central Tibetan Administration has made a number of appeals to Tibetans and our international supporters to work toward the creation of a conducive environment for negotiations. Today, I would like to emphasise that we leave no stone unturned to help the present process of dialogue for the resolution of the Sino-Tibetan problem. I urge all Tibetans to take note of this on the basis of the Kashag’s appeal. I make the same request to Tibet supporters and those sympathetic to the Tibetan people.”
Apr 2006: The Kashag of the Tibetan Administration-in-exile issued the third appeal on 3 April 2006, which said, “President Hu Jintao will soon pay an official visit to America this month and the Kashag would like to once again strongly appeal with utmost importance and emphasis to all the Tibetans and Tibet Support Groups to refrain from any activities, including staging of protest demonstrations causing embarrassment to him. This appeal is not only to create a conducive atmosphere for negotiations but also not to cause embarrassment and difficulty to His Holiness the Dalai Lama whose visit coincides with President Hu Jintao’s visit to America. If protests are held, this will give the impression that no Tibetan or Tibet Support Group is taking notice of and carrying out His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s instructions issued in the recent 10th March statement.”
Nov 2006: Briefing on the current status of discussions between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Government of the People’s Republic of China at the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., on 14 November 2006, Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, said, “Some detractors in the Chinese Government seem to believe that the aspirations of the Tibetan people will fizzle out once the Dalai Lama passes away. This is a most dangerous and myopic approach. Certainly, the absence of the Dalai Lama would be devastating for the Tibetan people. But more importantly his absence would mean that China would be left to handle the problem without the presence of a leader who enjoys the loyalty of the entire community and who remains firmly committed to non-violence. It is certain that the Tibetan position would become more intractable in his absence, and that having had their beloved leader pass away in exile would create deep and irreparable wounds in the hearts of the Tibetan people.” He further added, “In the absence of the Dalai Lama, there is no way that the entire population would be able to contain their resentment and anger. And it only takes a few desperate individuals or groups to create major instability. This is not a threat, but a statement of fact.” “The Dalai Lama’s world view, his special bond with the Tibetan people and the respect he enjoys in the international community all make the person of the Dalai Lama key both to achieving a negotiated solution to the Tibetan issue and to peacefully implementing any agreement that is reached. This is why we have consistently conveyed to our Chinese counterparts that far from being the problem, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the solution,” Special Envoy concluded.
Jun 2007: Special Envoy Lodi G. Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen, accompanied by two members of the Task Force, Sonam N. Dagpo and Bhuchung K. Tsering, visited China from June 29 to July 5, 2007 for the sixth round of discussions with the Chinese leadership. During this trip three sessions of discussion were held over a day and a half in Shanghai and Nanjing. The Executive Vice Minister of the Central United Front Work Department, Zhu Weiqun, and the Vice Minister, Sithar (who has been recently promoted to this post), led the discussions from the Chinese side. The Tibetan delegation conveyed their serious concerns in the strongest possible manner on the overall Tibetan issue and made some concrete proposals for implementation if the dialogue process is to go forward.