Tibet: Ready to Resume Peace Talks
An envoy for the Dalai Lama says Tibet is ready to resume peace talks with China. Kelsang Gyaltsen's speech to foreign correspondents in Tokyo comes more than seven months after negotiations stalled between the two sides. Tibetan leaders are taking their message around Asia, while they wait for word from Beijing.
Kelsang Gyaltsen stands on the front lines of Tibet's fight for autonomy. He has met with Chinese leaders eight times to convey the message of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday [22 May 2009] in Tokyo, Gyaltsen said Tibet is asking for autonomy, not separation from China.
"So that the Tibetan people are able to preserve their own culture, religion, language and identity in their homeland," Gyaltsen said.
The process hit a major hurdle last year  after demonstrations to mark the 49th anniversary of Tibet's failed uprising against Chinese rule were marked with violence. Chinese authorities quickly put down the protests.
But the two sides resumed talks last October . Gyaltsen says Tibetan leaders laid out a detailed road map for self-government. He says that outline conformed to principles of autonomy written in the Chinese constitution.
"The right to original, national, autonomy is guaranteed in the constitution to the People's Republic of China," Gyaltsen said. "It's to minorities such as the Tibetan people."
He says the Chinese government rejected the proposal without offering an alternative solution.
The talks are on hold indefinitely now, but Gyaltsen says exiled Tibetan leaders are organizing meetings between Chinese and Tibetan groups, engaging the two sides on a more human level. They also are publishing fliers and books in Mandarin, so Chinese people have a better understanding of the Tibetan culture.