Party Official Adds More Preconditions Before Dalai Lama Dialogue Can Resume

December 9, 2009

A senior Communist Party official has made statements in an interview with a European magazine indicating that the Party has introduced what appear to be additional preconditions that it expects the Dalai Lama to meet before the Party will resume discussions ("dialogue") with the Dalai Lama's representatives. The preconditions seek to force the Dalai Lama to accept responsibility for the dialogue stalling in late 2008, and pressure him to curtail his international travel. The introduction of the new preconditions is concurrent with increasing Chinese government demands that governments of other countries should bar the Dalai Lama from entering their countries if those governments wish to develop or maintain good relations with China.

The current series of discussions between the Party's United Front Work Department (UFWD) officials and the Dalai Lama's representatives began in September 2002 and stalled in November 2008 after the eighth round of formal dialogue. (Statements by the Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy, Lodi Gyari, following rounds of dialogue in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, July 2008, and November 2008 are available on the Tibetan government-in-exile Web site.) In July 2008, during the seventh round of dialogue, UFWD Head Du Qinglin laid out a series of preconditions―the "four no supports" and the "three stops"―that attempt to hold the Dalai Lama personally accountable for Tibetan views and activities that he does not support and that contradict his policies and guidance, and that pressure the Dalai Lama to take on the role of an active proponent of Chinese government political objectives.

Zhu Weiqun, Executive Deputy Head of the UFWD, who has served as one of the principal contacts with the Dalai Lama's representatives since the second round of dialogue in 2003 (see the statements linked above), described the apparent additional preconditions during a two-hour September 22, 2009, interview in Beijing with a German magazine, Focus. On October 5, Focus published a German-language summary of the interview that is approximately 200 words when translated into English (OSC, 6 October 09). On October 16, China's state-run media objected to the brevity of the Focus article, asserting that Zhu had granted the interview on the condition that Focus would print "the main contents of the interview," and published an approximately 6,600 word English-language transcript of the interview in Xinhua and a Chinese-language transcript in People's Daily (translated in OSC, 17 October 09). In addition to reiterating previous accusations and preconditions, Zhu added two apparent new preconditions on the Dalai Lama, based on the Xinhua and People's Daily transcripts of his statements.

  • Zhu claimed that the Dalai Lama broke off talks with China twice in November 2008 and demanded an explanation before talks could resume. "If the Dalai Lama side really intends to continue talks, he must first well explain why he cut off the talks twice last year, especially what they did on the second occasion." Zhu's remark about "the second occasion" refers to an unusual meeting of Tibetan political, religious, educational, cultural, and community leaders living outside of China. The meeting was convened in India to "hold an extensive discussion and debate with regard to the Tibetan cause in the light of recent emergency events in Tibet and the international scenario," according to a November 22, 2008, Tibetan government-in-exile (TGiE) report. The meeting participants adopted a set of recommendations urging, among other things, that Tibetans "follow the guidance of His Holiness the Dalai Lama based on the prevailing situation." The recommendation also observed that "views to stop sending envoys and to pursue complete independence or self-determination if no result comes out in the near future were also strongly expressed," the TGiE report said. The Dalai Lama's Special Envoy, Lodi Gyari, a meeting participant, referred to the eighth round of dialogue that had concluded on November 5 and said, "As far as our task is concerned, it has certainly come to a crucial stage. We did not even talk about future meetings," according to a November 21 Reuters report. The Commission has not observed any reports of statements by the Dalai Lama or his representatives asserting that they had "cut off the talks." [See Special Topic Paper: Tibet 2008-2009 for information on the current status of discussions between the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama's representatives.]
  • Zhu asserted that the Dalai Lama should restrain his international travel because "such activities . . . disturbed the central government and were detrimental to friendly relations between China and relevant countries." Zhu's demand that the Dalai Lama curtail international travel is consistent with recent Party and government statements pointing to what Chinese state-run media has described as an emerging "China doctrine" (China Daily, 12 March 09) that would pressure countries "cultivating ties with China" to deny entry to the Dalai Lama. The China Daily article referred to a March 7, 2009, news conference where, according to a China Central Television report the same day (translated in OSC, 10 March 09), Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi said: "In handling their relations with China, no country in the world should allow Dalai to pay visits or use their territory to engage in separatist activities. That should be within the norms of international relations, not a so-called special favor to China." [See Special Topic Paper: Tibet 2008-2009 for information on the Chinese government's shift toward a more aggressive international policy on the Tibet issue.]

Zhu stated in the Focus interview that UFWD officials told the Dalai Lama's representatives during the November 2008 eighth round of dialogue that the Chinese government would refuse to discuss the contents of a memorandum summarizing Tibetan positions that the representatives provided to UFWD officials during the round of dialogue, according to the October 16, 2009, Xinhua and People's Daily transcripts. The "Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People" (available on the Tibetan government-in-exile Web site), however, for the first time described the area that the Dalai Lama and his representatives wish to discuss as "all the areas currently designated by the PRC as Tibetan autonomous areas." By proposing that discussions focus on the areas of China that the Chinese government already has designated as areas of Tibetan autonomy, the Dalai Lama and his representatives have created an unprecedented opening for progress in dialogue with Chinese leaders.

See Special Topic Paper: Tibet 2008-2009 for information on the "Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People" (available on the Tibetan government-in-exile Web site).