Saturday, April 26, 2008
China backs down on Dalai Lama
Just when it seemed China was determined to destroy the good faith it would earn by hosting this year's Summer Olympics, the Beijing government said Friday it would meet with envoys of the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. The McClatchy News Service reported Friday that China's official Xinhua news agency said the officials would meet in the next few days to discuss how to deal with protests and violence that have embarrassed Beijing in the run-up to the Beijing games. China had embarked on a campaign of discrediting the Dalai Lama by calling him a criminal and claiming he is behind the protests that broke out last month in Tibet and have followed the progress of the Olympic torch relay around the world. But the Dalai Lama says all he wants is greater autonomy and religious freedom for the 6 million Tibetans in China. "It is hoped that through contact and consultation, the Dalai side will take credible moves to stop activities aimed at splitting China, stop plotting and inciting violence and stop disrupting and sabotaging the Beijing Olympic Games so as to create conditions for talks,” the news agency quoted a Chinese official as saying. The announcement is the first time an agreement seemed possible since protests began in Tibet in mid-March, raising tensions with the West. “We welcome this,” said Tenzin Taklha, a spokesman for the Dalai Lama. China's announcement came at the end of a visit to Berlin from officials from the European Commission.