Sino-Tibetan Dialogue: Renewed Contacts (2002 - Present)
Jan 2002: In January 2002, the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama met outside of China with Chinese officials responsible for Tibet policy. This was the first face-to-face meeting since August 1993.
Mar 2002: In his official statement on 10 March 2002, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, "I remain committed to the process of dialogue. As soon as there is a positive signal from Beijing, my designated representatives stand ready to meet with officials of the Chinese government anywhere, anytime."
Sep 2002: On the occasion of the 42nd Anniversary of the Tibetan Democracy Day on 2 September 2002, the Kashag of the Tibetan Administration-in-exile, in a statement, urged all the Tibetans to extend their support towards the realization of a united existence of the three provinces with genuine autonomy and proper democratic system through a negotiated settlement with leadership of Beijing on the basis of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Five Point Peace Plan and Strasbourg Proposal.
Sep 2002: The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued a press release in Dharamshala on 9 September 2002 informing about the visit of a Tibetan delegation to Beijing and Lhasa. The press statement said, "His Holiness the Dalai Lama is very pleased that the team is able to make such a visit."
Sep 2002: A four-member Tibetan delegation headed by Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lodi G. Gyari, left for China on 9 September 2002. The Special Envoy was accompanied by Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen and two senior assistants, Sonam N. Dagpo and Bhuchung K. Tsering. The visit was hosted by the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and came after a decade long deadlock in the relation between Beijing and Dharamshala. The Tibetan delegation visited Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and the Tibetan capital Lhasa and areas of Shigatse and Nyingtri, and met officials in Beijing, Lhasa as well as in other areas. In Beijing, the Tibetan delegation met Wang Zhaoguo, Vice-Chair of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and head of the CPC's United Front Work Department; Li De Zhu, Minister for Nationalities Affairs and Deputy Head of the United Front Work Department; and Ngapo Ngawang Jigme, Vice-Chair of the CPPCC. The purpose of the visit was two-fold: One, to re-establish direct contact with the leadership in Beijing and to create a conducive atmosphere enabling direct face-to-face meetings on a regular basis in future; Two, to explain His Holiness the Dalai Lama's Middle Way Approach towards resolving the issue of Tibet.
Sep 2002: While welcoming Beijing's positive gesture in receiving the Tibetan delegation to China earlier this month, the democratically elected Kalon Tripa of the Tibetan Administration-in-exile, Prof. Samdhong Rinpoche, announced that the period till June 2003 would be devoted towards creating a conducive atmosphere for building on the new contact. The Kalon Tripa, in an appeal dated 30 September 2002, said, "I want to urge all Tibetans and friends of Tibet to refrain from public actions like rallies and demonstrations during President Jiang Zemin's visit to the United States and Mexico [in October 2002]."
Oct 2002: On 1 October 2002, US President George W. Bush signed the Tibet Policy Act (TPA) which established in law the position of the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues at the State Department with the central objective to "promote substantive dialogue between the government of the People's Republic of China and the Dalai Lama or his representatives."
Mar 2003: In his official statement on 10 March 2003, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed happiness over the re-establishment of direct contact with the Chinese leadership with the visit of his envoys to Beijing last September and said, "I had instructed my envoys to make every effort to pursue a course of dialogue with the leadership in Beijing and to seize every opportunity to dispel existing misunderstandings and misconceptions in Beijing about our views and positions. This is the only sensible, intelligent and human way to resolve differences and establish understanding." His Holiness further said, "It is my sincere hope that the Chinese leadership will find the courage, vision and wisdom for new openings to solve the Tibetan issue through dialogue."
Mar 2003: On the occasion of the 44th Anniversary of the Tibetan People?s Uprising Day on 10 March 2003, the Kashag, in a statement, said, "The Tibet-China problem, which is nearly 55 years old, has never been about political issues only. Rather it is a problem which is related to the issue of nationality." Reassuring the Tibetan people, the Kashag further said, "Over the past 44 years of our existence in exile, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Administration have never wavered from our commitment to the goal of a united Tibet."
May 2003: The Tibetan delegation visited China for second time from 25 May to 8 June 2003. The visit followed the changes in leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) as well as of the Chinese Government and gave the delegation the opportunity to engage extensively with the new Chinese leaders and officials responsible for Tibet and relationship with the leaders of the Tibetan community-in-exile. In Beijing, the delegation met Liu Yandong, Vice-Chair of the CPPCC and head of the CPC's United Front Work Department; Zhu Weiqun, deputy head; Chang Rongjung, the Deputy Secretary-General; and other senior officials.
Mar 2004: In his official statement on 10 March 2004, His Holiness the Dalai Lama expressed willingness to meet with today?s leaders of the People?s Republic of China in the effort to secure a mutually acceptable solution to the Tibetan issue. While welcoming the present process of dialogue between his envoys and their Chinese counterparts, His Holiness said, "I consider it of highest importance to maintain the momentum and to intensify and deepen this process through regular face-to-face meetings and substantive discussions."
Sep 2004: The Tibetan delegation made the third visit to China and Tibetan areas from 12 to 29 September 2004. The delegation met Liu Yandong, Vice-Chair of the CPPCC and head of the CPC's United Front Work Department; Vice-Minister Zhu Weiqun, the deputy head; Chang Rongjun, Secretary-General; and other officials in Beijing. Both sides acknowledged the need for more substantive discussions in order to narrow down the gaps and reach a common ground.
Mar 2005: In his official statement on 10 March 2005, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, "I once again want to reassure the Chinese authorities that as long as I am responsible for the affairs of Tibet we remain fully committed to the Middle Way Approach of not seeking independence for Tibet and are willing to remain within the People?s Republic of China." His Holiness expressed optimism over the gradual improvement of interactions between his envoys and their Chinese counterparts, and said, "Now that our elected political leadership is shouldering more responsibility in Tibetan affairs, I have advised them to look into the issues raised by the Chinese side during our third round of talks and to take steps to address or clarify them as needed."
Mar 2005: On the occasion of the 46th Anniversary of the Tibetan People?s Uprising Day on 10 March 2005, the Kashag, in a statement, said, "In essence, the entirety of the Tibetan population having legitimate rights within the constitutional framework of the People's Republic of China to enjoy genuine national regional autonomy is the legitimate requirement of the Tibetan people. Therefore, the need of such an autonomy, equally and uniformly practiced amidst all the Tibetan people, has already been emphasised; not just once but many times. We would like to once again state that this basic principle can not be changed at all."
Jun 2005: The fourth round of meetings between the Tibetan and Chinese delegations took place on 30 June and 1 July 2005 at the Embassy of the People?s Republic of China in Berne, Switzerland. Special Envoy Lodi G. Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen, accompanied by three senior assistants, Sonam N. Dagpo, Ngapa Tsegyam, and Bhuchung K. Tsering, met Vice Minister Zhu Weiqun of the CPC's United Front Work Department and his six-member delegation. Vice Minister Zhu declared that their direct contact with the Tibetan delegation has now become stable and an "established practice." He also conveyed to the Tibetan delegation that the Central leadership of the Chinese Communist Party attached great importance to the contact with His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Tibetan side put forward some concrete proposals that will help build trust and confidence and move the ongoing process to a new level of engagement aimed at bringing about substantive negotiations to achieve a mutually acceptable solution to the Tibetan issue.
Sep 2005: The Kashag of the Tibetan Administration-in-exile issued a second appeal on 3 September 2005, which said, "The President of the People's Republic of China, Hu Jintao, will soon pay an official visit to the Americas sometime in September this year. We would like to take this opportunity to make an urgent appeal to all the Tibetans and Tibet Support Groups to refrain from any activities, including staging of protest demonstrations, which will cause him embarrassment."
Feb 2006: The Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama issued a press statement in Dharamshala on 15 February 2006 informing about the arrival of the Tibetan delegation in China for the fifth round of talks with their Chinese counterparts. The press statement further said, "His Holiness is pleased that the present round of talks, which began in 2002, is the longest process of continued interaction that we have had with the leadership in Beijing. For the last four meetings, the envoys have had very candid and serious discussion with their counterparts in the Chinese leadership."
Feb 2006: Special Envoy Lodi G. Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen, accompanied by two members of the Task Force, Sonam N. Dagpo and Bhuchung K. Tsering, visited China from 15 to 23 February 2006. The Tibetan delegation had a day-long meeting with the Executive Vice Minister of the CPC's United Front Work Department, Zhu Weiqun, on 22 February 2006 in Guilin City during which they dealt with substantive issues. This fifth round of discussion made it clear that there is a major difference even in the approach in addressing the issue. However, both sides remain committed to the dialogue process with their firm belief that the obstacles can be overcome through more discussions and engagements.
Mar 2006: In his official statement on 10 March 2006, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, "The Kashag of the Central Tibetan Administration has made a number of appeals to Tibetans and our international supporters to work toward the creation of a conducive environment for negotiations. Today, I would like to emphasise that we leave no stone unturned to help the present process of dialogue for the resolution of the Sino-Tibetan problem. I urge all Tibetans to take note of this on the basis of the Kashag's appeal. I make the same request to Tibet supporters and those sympathetic to the Tibetan people."
Apr 2006: The Kashag of the Tibetan Administration-in-exile issued the third appeal on 3 April 2006, which said, "President Hu Jintao will soon pay an official visit to America this month and the Kashag would like to once again strongly appeal with utmost importance and emphasis to all the Tibetans and Tibet Support Groups to refrain from any activities, including staging of protest demonstrations causing embarrassment to him. This appeal is not only to create a conducive atmosphere for negotiations but also not to cause embarrassment and difficulty to His Holiness the Dalai Lama whose visit coincides with President Hu Jintao's visit to America. If protests are held, this will give the impression that no Tibetan or Tibet Support Group is taking notice of and carrying out His Holiness the Dalai Lama?s instructions issued in the recent 10th March statement."
Nov 2006: Briefing on the current status of discussions between His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Government of the People?s Republic of China at the Brookings Institution, Washington, D.C., on 14 November 2006, Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, said, "Some detractors in the Chinese Government seem to believe that the aspirations of the Tibetan people will fizzle out once the Dalai Lama passes away. This is a most dangerous and myopic approach. Certainly, the absence of the Dalai Lama would be devastating for the Tibetan people. But more importantly his absence would mean that China would be left to handle the problem without the presence of a leader who enjoys the loyalty of the entire community and who remains firmly committed to non-violence. It is certain that the Tibetan position would become more intractable in his absence, and that having had their beloved leader pass away in exile would create deep and irreparable wounds in the hearts of the Tibetan people." He further added, "In the absence of the Dalai Lama, there is no way that the entire population would be able to contain their resentment and anger. And it only takes a few desperate individuals or groups to create major instability. This is not a threat, but a statement of fact." "The Dalai Lama's world view, his special bond with the Tibetan people and the respect he enjoys in the international community all make the person of the Dalai Lama key both to achieving a negotiated solution to the Tibetan issue and to peacefully implementing any agreement that is reached. This is why we have consistently conveyed to our Chinese counterparts that far from being the problem, His Holiness the Dalai Lama is the solution," Special Envoy concluded.
Jun 2007: Special Envoy Lodi G. Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen, accompanied by two members of the Task Force, Sonam N. Dagpo and Bhuchung K. Tsering, visited China from June 29 to July 5, 2007 for the sixth round of discussions with the Chinese leadership. During this trip three sessions of discussion were held over a day and a half in Shanghai and Nanjing. The Executive Vice Minister of the Central United Front Work Department, Zhu Weiqun, and the Vice Minister, Sithar (who has been recently promoted to this post), led the discussions from the Chinese side. The Tibetan delegation conveyed their serious concerns in the strongest possible manner on the overall Tibetan issue and made some concrete proposals for implementation if the dialogue process is to go forward.