Oct 10, 2004

Major Differences remain in China-Tibet Dialogue

Tibetan Special Envoys to China Kasur Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen speak out after their meetings with Chinese officials
Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen and I, accompanied by two senior assistants, Sonam N. Dagpo and Bhuchung K. Tsering,visited China from September 12 to 29, 2004. This is the third trip of the delegation to China since 2002.

We met Minister Liu Yandong, Vice Chairperson of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Committee and head of the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party, Vice-Minister Zhu Weijun, the deputy head, Mr. Chang Rongjung, Secretary-General and other officials in Beijing. We had so far the most extensive and serious exchange of views on matters relating to Tibet. The discussions were held in a frank but cordial atmosphere. It was apparent from the discussions that there are major differences on a number of issues, including some fundamental ones. Both sides acknowledged the need for more substantive discussions in order to narrow down the gaps and reach a common ground. We stressed the need for both sides to demonstrate flexibility, far-sightedness and vision to bridge the differences.

On this occasion we were pleased to visit several counties of the Karze Tibetan autonomous prefecture. We were able to interact with the provincial, prefectural and local officials. We found most of the Tibetan officials well educated, competent and dedicated. We emphasized to them the importance of preserving and developing our heritage, namely the Tibetan language, culture and religion, while making economic progress. We also shared with the officials the vision and efforts that His Holiness the Dalai Lama is making in resolving the issue of Tibet.

We had the opportunity to tour Guangzhou city and the Special Economic Zones of Zhuhai and Shenzhen of Guangdong province. These areas have made tremendous economic progress within a short period of few decades. We also had the opportunity to visit Chengde city in the Hubei province, where Manchu emperors had built replicas of the Potala Palace, Tashi Lhunpo and Samye monasteries of Tibet.

We arrived in Dharamsala on October 1, 2004 and met Kalon Tripa Samdhong Rinpoche.

Yesterday we reported to His Holiness the Dalai Lama about our visit as well as about the overall economic and political developments in China. He is pleased that we were able to have extensive, serious and frank discussions with Chinese leaders and officials. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is aware that this is a long process and has encouraged and instructed us to continue to pursue this process with patience and determination.

We also briefed the chair and vice-chair of the Assembly of the Tibetan People's Deputies yesterday and the Kashag this morning.

We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincere appreciation to and thank our host, the United Front Work Department, and officials of the various levels for their hospitality and assistance.

Dharamsala, October 13, 2004