China presses Dalai Lama ahead of Games
Reuters[Monday, July 07, 2008 18:26]
By Chris Buckley

BEIJING, July 7 - China's stance on future talks with envoys of the Dalai Lama rests on how he answers demands not to disrupt next month's Beijing Olympics, an official said, highlighting intense anxieties about the Games.

After secretive talks with representatives of the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, Beijing said last week that more talks depended on his preventing acts "sabotaging the Olympic Games".

China has accused the Dalai Lama's followers of seeking to derail the Games by orchestrating unrest across Tibet in March and subsequent protests that upset the Olympic torch relay in several countries. The Dalai Lama has repeatedly denied the accusations.

But in an apparent bid to amplify Beijing's claims, a Chinese Communist Party spokesman repeated the demands, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported on Monday.

An unnamed spokesman for the Party's United Front Work Department, which oversaw the talks, said the Buddhist leader must vow "not to support activities to disturb the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games", not support "violent criminal activities", not support efforts for Tibetan independence, and curb the pro-independence Tibetan Youth Congress.

"If the Dalai Lama fails to meet such simple and rational demands, it will be impossible to have the necessary atmosphere and conditions for the next round of contacts," the spokesman said, according to Xinhua.

"The door for dialogue is always open and contacts will make positive steps as long as the Dalai Lama meets words with actions and truly follows the four 'not-supports'," the spokesman said, referring to the vows Beijing has demanded.

The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, says he wants true autonomy for the mountain region, but not outright independence. Beijing says his conditions amount to a bid for independence.

The Chinese government has treated the Olympics as a historic affirmation of the country's progress and stability. The Dalai Lama has said he supports the Olympics and appealed to Tibetans not to protest during the August 8-24 Games.

But Beijing puts protests over Tibet among its top security worries at the Beijing Games.

The London-based Free Tibet Campaign will urge British athletes at the Games to decry China's presence in Tibet by making a "T for Tibet" hand gesture, the group said in an emailed statement.

The Xinhua report did not explain why the Party spokesman repeated the demands now. But they come ahead of the Group of Eight summit in Japan this week, where world leaders, including U.S. President George W. Bush, may raise restive Tibet with Chinese President Hu Jintao.

The Chinese spokesman said the envoys had "expressed acceptance" of the demands. The "promises and positive response by the Dalai's side" were an "important advance", he said.

But weekend comments from the envoy Lodi Gyari suggested the Dalai Lama's negotiators were far from accepting the premises of China's demands.

Speaking in Dharamsala, the northern Indian site of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Gyari said the talks were marked by personal attacks on the Dalai Lama and it seemed China held them in a bid to ensure no disruptions to the Games.

He also "categorically rejected" Chinese claims that the exiled Tibetan Youth Congress engaged in "violent terror."

The two sides held an earlier round of talks in May, and the Dalai's envoys said they expect another meeting in October.

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