China Demands That the Dalai Lama Fulfill Additional Preconditions to Dialogue

July 30, 2008

An unnamed official of the Chinese Communist Party United Front Work Department (UFWD) has outlined new preconditions that the Chinese government expects the Dalai Lama to fulfill if the dialogue between Chinese officials and the Dalai Lama's representatives is to continue, according to a July 6, 2008, Xinhua report (translated in OSC, 07 July 08).


An unnamed official of the Chinese Communist Party United Front Work Department (UFWD) has outlined new preconditions that the Chinese government expects the Dalai Lama to fulfill if the dialogue between Chinese officials and the Dalai Lama's representatives is to continue, according to a July 6, 2008, Xinhua report (translated in OSC, 07 July 08).

The preconditions press Chinese unsubstantiated government accusations that the Dalai Lama is responsible for Tibetan pro-independence views and activities, Tibetan violence during March rioting in Tibetan areas of China, a Tibetan NGO that the Chinese government characterizes as "terrorist," and Tibet activists' attempts to disrupt activities associated with the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. The preconditions direct the Dalai Lama to take action to alter the political positions and activities of Tibetans internationally and within China. Another precondition that could impact the relationship between the Dalai Lama and India, and possibly between China and India, instructs the Dalai Lama to provide a blanket statement supporting the Chinese government position on questions of territory and sovereignty.

The Chinese government has offered to discuss with the Dalai Lama his personal future if he fulfills all of the Chinese government preconditions. Party and government officials have asserted that the Dalai Lama does not represent the Tibetan people and that he has no right to negotiate issues that address the future of Tibet or Tibetans.

The Seventh Round of Dialogue

The UFWD official detailed the new demands after the Dalai Lama's Special Envoy Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen concluded a June 30 to July 3 visit to Beijing to conduct the seventh round of formal dialogue with Chinese officials since such contacts resumed in 2002. UFWD Head Du Qinglin led the Chinese team, which also included UFWD Executive Deputy Head Zhu Weiqun and Deputy Head Sita (or Sithar), according to the July 6 Xinhua report and a July 5 statement by Lodi Gyari. Senior UFWD officials served as the envoys' counterparts for all six of the previous rounds of dialogue, according to Lodi Gyari's statements following each round of meetings: September 2002, May-June 2003, September 2004, June-July 2005, February 2006, and June-July 2007. In 2005, the UFWD established a new bureau to handle Tibetan affairs, according to a September 12, 2006, Singtao Daily report (translated in OSC, 15 September 06). The Seventh Bureau's mission is "to cooperate with relevant parties in struggling against secessionism by enemies, both local and foreign, such as the Dalai Lama clique, and to liaise with overseas Tibetans." The UFWD oversees the implementation of Party policy toward ethnic and religious groups, intellectuals, entrepreneurs, and China's eight "democratic" political parties, among other functions. (See the official Chinese government Web site for an explanation of "democratic" parties).

The July 1 and 2 meetings in Beijing followed a cascade of generally peaceful Tibetan protests that began on March 10 in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), then swept across more than 50 additional county-level areas in the TAR and Tibetan autonomous areas located in Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan provinces. Chinese officials maintain that "the Dalai Clique"―Tibetan organizations and individuals, and their supporters, whom Chinese officials claim that the Dalai Lama controls―"organized, premeditated, and masterminded" rioting that took place in Lhasa and 10 other county-level locations, as well as international protests that disrupted the Olympic torch relay. (See, e.g., Xinhua, 1 April 08, for Ministry of Public Security (MPS) accusations, and CECC Analysis, 10 April 08, 7, for analysis of the accusations.) The Dalai Lama has continued to reiterate his support for the Beijing Olympic Games and to call on all Tibetans―wherever they live―to refrain from violence. (See, e.g., Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Statement of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to All Tibetans, 6 April 08).

Chinese officials and the Dalai Lama's envoys said after the Beijing talks concluded that continuing the dialogue is in jeopardy and depends on measures undertaken by the other side. The UFWD official said in the July 6 Xinhua report that if "the Dalai side" could not accept the government requirements conveyed to the envoys (the "four no supports") and make progress to "materialize" them, then "there would hardly be the atmosphere and conditions required for the contacts and discussions between the two sides." Lodi Gyari said in his July 5 statement that the Tibetan delegation had been "compelled to candidly convey to our counterparts that in the absence of serious and sincere commitment on their part the continuation of the present dialogue process would serve no purpose."

The envoys had traveled to Shenzhen city, Guangdong province, for preliminary, informal talks with UFWD officials on May 4. Gyari said in a May 8 statement that the envoys had stressed the importance of "ending the current repression throughout Tibet," releasing prisoners, allowing the injured to receive proper medical treatment, and providing visitors and reporters with "unfettered access" to Tibetan areas of China.

More Preconditions: Four "No's" and Three "Stops"

The "four no supports," according to the July 6 Xinhua report, direct the Dalai Lama to "give an open and explicit promise and take corresponding actions" that he would give (ordered as in Xinhua):

  • "no support for activities that aimed to disturb and sabotage the Beijing Olympic Games;"
  • "no support for and making no attempt to conspire and incite violent criminal activities;"
  • "no support for and taking earnest steps to check the violent terrorist activities of the 'Tibetan Youth Association' [Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC)];" and
  • "no support for any propositions [zhuzhang] or activities that sought to achieve 'Tibet independence' and split the motherland."

The UFWD official explained that the "four no supports" are a "concretized form" of the "three stops." He described the "four no supports" as "more operable, and more acceptable to the Dalai side," and said that they represent "a message of goodwill that we would like to send to the Dalai side, in order to ensure positive results for the contacts between the two sides." The July 6 Xinhua article did not define the "three stops," but a July 7 Xinhua report did so. The Chinese government has requested the Dalai Lama to (ordered as in Xinhua):

  • "stop activities aimed at splitting China;"
  • "stop plotting and inciting violence;" and
  • "stop disrupting and sabotaging the Beijing Olympic Games."

The UFWD official claimed in the July 6 Xinhua article that while the Dalai Lama's envoys were in Beijing, they "recognized the requirement as a new gist put forward by the central government, and indicated that they would accept the requirement raised by the central government." Public statements by the Dalai Lama's envoys, however, express no such acceptance of these demands, and instead reject them as without basis. Lodi Gyari observed in his July 5 statement, that "the Chinese side" is "now urging His Holiness not to support violence, terrorism, and sabotaging the Olympics." The envoys, he said, "stated in the strongest possible terms that no one needs to urge us on this as His Holiness and the Tibetan struggle are universally acknowledged and appreciated for consistently rejecting and opposing such acts," the statement said, and categorically rejected the Chinese attempt to label [the TYC] a violent and terrorist organization."

Together, the "four no supports" and the "three stops" intensify the Chinese government and Party campaign to hold the Dalai Lama personally accountable for Tibetan views and activities that he does not support and that contradict his policies and guidance. In addition, UFWD Head Du Qinglin's demand stated in a July 3 Xinhua report (reprinted in China Daily, 3 July 08) that the Dalai Lama "should openly and explicitly promise" to fulfill the requirements of the "four no supports" and "prove it in his actions" creates pressure on the Dalai Lama to take on the role of a proponent of Chinese government political objectives as a precondition to continuing a dialogue that seeks to address political issues.

Chinese government pressure on the Dalai Lama to take action against "propositions or activities" in support of Tibetan independence is important because Chinese government targets are not limited to plans or activities that include violence—Chinese targets include a point of view and the peaceful expression of it. Many of the countries where Tibetans live, including India, have constitutions that protect the freedom of speech and governments that strive to respect that freedom. China, a notable exception, has a constitution that provides the freedom of speech but a government that does not protect citizens' exercise of the right. (See, e.g., Constitution of India, Art. 19 (available on the Government of India Ministry of Law and Justice Web site; PRC Constitution, Art. 35; and U.S. Constitution, Amendment 1, (available on the U.S. House of Representatives Web site).) In China, authorities can imprison Chinese citizens who peacefully question or object to state policies by convicting them of crimes such as "splittism" or "inciting splittism" (Criminal Law, Article 103, "the scheme of splitting the State or undermining unity of the country"), and "subversion" or "inciting subversion" (Article 105, "the scheme of subverting the State power or overthrowing the socialist system"). 

If the Dalai Lama were to attempt to take action to stop Tibetans from peacefully expressing support for the proposition of Tibetan independence in countries such as India and the United States, he could find himself accused of interfering with constitutionally protected rights in those countries, especially the freedom of speech. The Dalai Lama's Middle Way Approach (available on the Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama Web site) outlines his longstanding effort to provide an alternative to Tibetan independence. (See the CECC 2007 Annual Report for information on the Middle Way Approach.)

A "No" and a "Must:" A Potential Wedge Between the Dalai Lama and India

The UFWD official also reiterated in the July 6 Xinhua report the Chinese government's five policy-related demands of the Dalai Lama. All of the demands focus on issues of territory and sovereignty. The spokesman asserted that the central government has "all along" emphasized that the Dalai Lama must (ordered as in Xinhua):

  • "truly give up his stance of 'Tibet independence';"
  • "stop all activities that aim to split the motherland;"
  • "recognize that Tibet is an inseparable part of the Chinese territory;"
  • "[recognize] that Taiwan is an inseparable part of the Chinese territory;" and
  • "[recognize] that the Government of the People's Republic of China is the only legitimate government that represents entire China."

The fifth demand, to uphold Chinese government positions on territory and sovereignty, could heighten the obstacles facing the dialogue, especially in cases where the government accuses the Dalai Lama of having a "splittist" role in the matter. By invoking the preconditions, China may seek to maneuver the Dalai Lama into an awkward (if not untenable) position with respect to the government of India―the country that has provided refuge to the Dalai Lama and tens of thousands of other Tibetans since 1959, and continues to do so.

For example, the Chinese government claims as part of China a substantial part of the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, which borders the southeastern TAR. China and India engaged in armed conflict in 1962 over disputed territory along their border, including territory within Arunachal Pradesh. (See, American University, Inventory of Conflict and Environment, Case Study 161; and International Boundary Consultants, International Boundary Monitor, 15 May 98). The dispute remains unresolved―maps published by China show the disputed area of Arunachal Pradesh as part of China. (Compare the location of the China-India border relative to the location of the Brahmaputra River on an Indian map available on Maps of India, with the locations shown on a Chinese map available on Military tension along the China-India border has increased since June 2008, according to a June 13 India Today commentary (reprinted in OSC, 18 June 08), a June 21 Straits Times report, and a June 27 Asia Times report.

A July 8, 2008, China Daily article linked the requirement that the Dalai Lama must provide "no support" for "splitting" China directly to the Arunachal Pradesh border dispute. According to China Daily, in a June 4, 2008, interview with an Indian media organization the Dalai Lama said that a 1914 agreement (the Simla Convention, reprinted on the Tibet Justice Center Web site) is legal. The agreement established "the McMahon Line" as the boundary between Tibetan and Indian territory. A June 4 Times of India report paraphrased the Dalai Lama as acknowledging that Arunachal Pradesh became part of India under the agreement, which British and Tibetan representatives signed. The Dalai Lama and Samdhong Rinpoche, the elected head of the Tibetan government-in-exile, have made other statements in support of the validity of the McMahon Line, according to media reports (see, e.g., Samdhong Rinpoche in Rediff News, 19 March 08; the Dalai Lama in Indo-Asian News Service, reprinted in World Tibet News, 18 January 07; and Samdhong Rinpoche in Times of India, 7 December 06.) A September 1992 Chinese government White Paper (Tibet -- Its Ownership And Human Rights Situation, available on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Web site) outlined China's objections to the Simla Conference and claimed that the government of the then-Republic of China had refused to sign or recognize the agreement.

The China Daily article, referring to the Dalai Lama's reported June 4 remarks in support of the McMahon Line, said that he "needs to take back his unreasonably wrong and traitorous remarks." Chinese officials who press the Dalai Lama to adopt Chinese government positions on issues of territory and sovereignty may do so knowing that if he conforms to China's stance on the Arunachal Pradesh dispute, he will alienate himself from the Indian government that hosts him, and potentially put at risk India's hospitality toward Tibetan refugees.

China's Offer: Discussions on a Future for the Dalai Lama, but Not for Tibetans

The Chinese government is prepared to have discussions with the Dalai Lama about his "personal future," if the Dalai Lama fulfills the Chinese government's requirements of him, the UFWD official said in the July 6 Xinhua report. Only the Chinese central government and TAR government are "the representatives of the Tibetan people," the official said, underscoring Chinese government refusal to accept the Dalai Lama as such a representative. Dong Yunhu, Director General of the State Council Information Office, said that the Dalai Lama is not "qualified to represent Tibet" and "has lost all right to negotiate on the future of Tibet," according to a July 15 Indo-Asian News Service report (reprinted in Yahoo!). The Chinese government "will never discuss the future of Tibet" with the Dalai Lama, Dong said, but is willing to discuss the Dalai Lama's future and that of "some of his supporters."

The UFWD official denied that the "contacts and discussion" with the Dalai Lama's representatives are "talks between China and Tibet" or "dialogues between the Hans and Tibetans." He emphasized that the Chinese government "will by no means hold any discussion" with the Tibetan government-in-exile, which he described as an "illegal organization." Dong said that the discussions with the Dalai Lama's representatives have made clear that their political positions were "totally contrary" to the Chinese government position.

For more information, see "Status of Discussion Between China and the Dalai Lama" in Section IV, Tibet: Special Focus for 2007, in the CECC 2007 Annual Report, and "Status of Discussion Between China and the Dalai Lama" in Section VIII, Tibet, in the CECC 2006 Annual Report. Special Focus for 2007 is also available as a separate reprint.