Beijing brushes aside new Tibetan leader

BEIJING, May 16 (UPI) -- China has little interest in meeting with the new leader of Tibet's government-in-exile, saying the former leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, remains a saboteur.

The communist government in Beijing won't be looking for talks with Harvard law Professor Lobsang Sangay, elected as prime-minister-in-exile in April, said Zhu Weiqun, executive vice minister of the United Front Work Department.

Zhu's department is in charge of talking to religious groups, including the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader and former political leader. His department has had several years of on-again, off-again talks with the Dalia Lama, who announced in March that he was giving up his political role.

Sangay, 43, was elected as the kalon tripa -- prime minister -- with 55 percent of the 49,000 votes cast.

Sangay, a Tibetan refugee is a legal scholar, political activist and international human rights lawyer. He is a visiting Research Fellow at the East Asian Legal Studies Program at Harvard Law School.

But the Dalia Lama remains the ceremonial head of state as well as the spiritual head of millions of Tibetans, in and outside the country, which Chinese forces have occupied for more than 60 years.

"It doesn't matter who is the kalon tripa of his government-in-exile, they are a splitist political clique that has betrayed the motherland," Zhu said in an interview with the government-owned magazine China's Tibet.

"There is nothing legal about them and they have no qualifications to talk with the central government's (Beijing's) representatives."

The interview with Zhu was ahead of the 60th commemoration of an agreement between China's communist government and "the Local Government of Tibet on Measures for the peaceful Liberation of Tibet," the magazine article said.

In October 1950, the People's Liberation Army won a decisive victory over a Tibetan army at the border town of Chamdo. It was the end of less than two weeks of hostilities, which the Chinese call the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet.

Chamdo was where the PLA "crushed down the scheme of the small number of upper-class reactionaries in Tibet who tried to resist the liberation of Tibet," Zhu said.

Soon after Chamdo, the Dalai Lama led a delegation to Beijing to negotiate a settlement but which allowed the eventual capture of all of Tibet by Chinese forces.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet after a brief uprising in 1959 by trekking across the Himalayas with around 20 government leaders. They arrived in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala where the government-in-exile remains. He was followed by about 80,000 Tibetans, many settling in the area.

The Dalai Lama, 75, has been a thorn in the side of Beijing through his globe-trotting to visit government officials -- including in the United States -- pressure groups and non-government organizations in an attempt to force Beijing to give Tibet more autonomy.

The Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 and has become a symbol of peaceful resistance to oppression but the Chinese government castigates him for what they say is fomenting separatism and civil unrest in Tibet.

Zhu labeled the Dalai Lama as "the leader of the separatist clique that conspires the independence of Tibet."

He is "a ready puppet of the international anti-China forces, the root of social disorder in Tibet and the biggest obstacle against regular religious order of Tibet Buddhism.

"I feel bad for him, as he has to die with those four labels," Zhu said.

Despite the hard line attitude toward the Dalai Lama, Zhu left the door open for talks, saying, "Provided the Dalai Lama genuinely abandons his Tibet independence stance, we can talk about his personal future."

Discussions can happen when the Dalai Lama "publicly admits that Tibet and Taiwan are both inalienable parts of China and accepts that the People's Republic of China is the sole legitimate government of China," Zhu said.

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