(AFP) – Jul 7, 2008
BEIJING (AFP) — China has insisted that the Dalai Lama must not do anything to tarnish the Beijing Olympics if talks between the two sides are to continue, state media reported on Monday.
Tibet's "illegal" government-in-exile also has no role in the dialogue, the Xinhua news agency quoted a senior Communist Party official involved in the process as saying.
"We do not recognise this 'Tibetan exiled government'," Xinhua quoted the unnamed spokesman of the party's United Front Work Department as saying in an exclusive interview.
"The central government will never hold consultations with such an illegal organisation."
The first condition mentioned in the Xinhua dispatch centred on next month's Olympics, following deadly unrest in Tibet this year that China has accused the Dalai Lama of fomenting to embarrass the government ahead of the Games.
"The Dalai Lama should openly and explicitly promise and prove in his actions not to support activities to disturb the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games," the official was quoted as saying.
The Dalai Lama has repeatedly denied orchestrating the unrest and voiced support for China's hosting of the Olympics.
The official also insisted the dialogue only concerned the "personal future" of the Dalai Lama, in an apparent reference to negotiations on whether the Tibetan spiritual leader could one day return to China and eventually Tibet.
This has been China's central position since the talks started in 2002, although the Tibetan side has pushed for the dialogue to cover a broader range of issues, such as more meaningful autonomy for the Himalayan region.
The top representative of the Dalai Lama said Saturday he was "disappointed" with the latest round of talks, which were held in Beijing last week.
The talks stalled last year but China agreed to restart them in early May amid world criticism over China's massive crackdown on the protests that began in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa in March against Chinese rule.
China has ruled Tibet since 1951, a year after sending troops in to "liberate" the region.
The Dalai Lama fled his homeland in 1959 following a failed uprising and has since been based alongside the government-in-exile in Dharamshala, India.
Meanwhile, foreign journalists still face intimidation and limited access to parts of China despite promises that media restrictions would be loosened ahead of the Olympics, a rights group said Monday.
"The gap between government rhetoric and the reality for foreign journalists remains considerable," US-based Human Rights Watch said in a report released Monday in Hong Kong.
"Their working conditions today, while improved in some respects, have deteriorated in other areas, dramatically in the case of Tibet.
"The result is that during a period when reporting freedoms for foreign journalists in China should be at an all-time high, correspondents face severe difficulties in accessing 'forbidden zones'."
Those zones include both areas and subjects which the Chinese government considers "sensitive" such as Tibet, which was the site of deadly rioting in March and made off-limits to foreign reporters.
In June, China said foreign reporters could return, but put in place an "onerous" application process that meant any permission was unlikely to be granted, the report said.
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