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Dalai Lama's Envoys to Hold Talks Sunday with Chinese Officials བོད་སྐད།


Representatives of the Dalai Lama are to meet with Chinese officials this weekend for the first talks on Tibet since violent unrest broke out in March. But, as Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing, the talks are not expected to yield any breakthroughs.

Two envoys of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader were scheduled to arrive in Hong Kong Saturday ahead of informal talks with Chinese officials in neighboring Shenzhen.

The meeting would be the first between the Dalai Lama's envoys and Chinese officials since Beijing cracked down on violent unrest in Tibetan areas of China.

The India-based Tibetan government-in-exile said the representatives of the Dalai Lama would express concerns to Chinese officials about the handling of the situation and give suggestions for restoring peace.

Barry Sautman is a professor of social science at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. He says a breakthrough is not likely, but some form of agreement might be possible.

"My guess is that at the end of this round of talks we will hear that the two sides have agreed to have more talks, that they have agreed that the situation in Tibet should be stabilized, and that they will take up important issues in future rounds of talks," he said. "I don't think we can expect to hear much more than that."

Beijing blames the Dalai Lama and his supporters for riots that broke out in March after several days of monk-led peaceful protests against government persecution.

Chinese authorities reacted by cutting off Tibetan areas from foreigners and forcing monks to stay in their monasteries.

International concern about the situation led to calls for a boycott of the Beijing Olympics and embarrassing protests against the global Olympic torch relay.

Many Western governments urged Chinese leaders to engage with the Dalai Lama on the issue, and Beijing finally conceded.

The two sides have met several times in the past few years to discuss Tibet and the possibility of the Dalai Lama returning to Tibet, but with little to show for it.

The Dalai Lama says he wants political autonomy for Tibetan areas of China, but he wants Tibet to remain a part of China.

But the Chinese government says the Dalai Lama cannot be trusted and is seeking to split Tibet from China and wreck preparations for the Beijing Olympics.

Tibet has been under Chinese influence for centuries and officially became a part of Communist China after Chinese troops invaded in the early 1950s. The Dalai Lama fled Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule. Beijing claims Tibet has always been a part of China.

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