Tibetan envoys head for China talks

Expectations tempered by official Chinese media's renewed attacks on the Dalai Lama.

    Chinese official media have labelled the Dalai Lama
    a 'criminal' on the eve of peace talks [AFP]

    "During this brief visit, the envoys will take up the urgent issue of the current crisis in the Tibetan areas," Samphel said on Friday.
    "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."

    Media tirade

    But as the talks were set to begin, China's official media poured scorn over the Dalai Lama.

    Saturday's edition of the official Tibet Daily newspaper described him as a "criminal".
    Phelim Kline, an Asia researcher of Human Rights Watch, said that the toxic atmosphere between the two parties is not helpful.
    "The hostility between the two sides is not going help find a solution that will end the serious human rights violations that are going on in the Tibet region," he said.

    John Harrison, a lecturer on international affairs at Nanyang Technological University, told Al Jazeera that the talks are about managing public image, and public relations, on the part of the Chinese government.

    "Given that this issues has become a rallying point for those who want to boycott the Olympics, or at least the opening ceremonies, the government wants to get this off the front page of world news," he said.
    Earlier, Samdhong Rinpoche, the Tibetan prime minister-in-exile, cautioned against high expectations.
    "We don't have much high expectations," he said.
    "Nevertheless, we are happy consultations are taking place."
    This "is not the seventh round of talks", Rinpoche said, referring to six rounds of dialogue on Tibetan autonomy that started in late 2002 and broke off in 2007.
    Security sweep
    The Tibetan government-in-exile says 203 people were killed and some 1,000 injured in the unrest and crackdown in and around Lhasa, Tibet's capital.
    At least 5,715 people have been arrested since the protests began, Chinese officials said.
    The unrest has both angered and embarrassed China in the run-up to the Beijing Olympics in August as pro-Tibet demonstrators have dogged each leg of the Olympic torch relay's world tour.
    Tibetan leaders say the unrest is a result of the anger and frustration experienced by the people of Tibet after nearly six decades of repressive Chinese rule.
    Chinese troops invaded Tibet in 1950 and officially annexed the region a year later.
    The Dalai Lama, who fled his homeland following an uprising in the province in 1959, has repeatedly accused China of widespread human-rights violations.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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