Wed, May 07, 2008 - Page 5 News List

China says onus on Dalai Lama for further talks

AGENCIES , BEIJING

China said yesterday that the Dalai Lama must show sincerity if talks over Tibet were to continue, in an apparent reference to the Tibetan spiritual leader’s alleged independence ambitions.

“I want to stress that this current contact is only a beginning,” foreign ministry spokesman Qin Gang (秦剛) said in the government’s first direct comments on talks between Chinese officials and two of the Dalai Lama’s envoys.

“The central government’s contact with the Dalai is sincere. So long as the Dalai’s side exerts sincerity, especially in its actions, then the contact will continue,” Qin said.

The talks, held in Shenzhen on Sunday, were the first meeting between the two sides in more than a year.

The Chinese government offered to hold the talks following sustained pressure from international leaders to reopen negotiations amid seven weeks of deadly unrest in Tibet and other parts of China with Tibetan populations.

One of the Dalai Lama’s envoys gave a positive assessment of the talks yesterday, as he stopped in Hong Kong on his way back to the Tibetan government-in-exile’s base in India.

“All very candid. We had very candid discussions,” Lodi Gyari said. “It was a good first step.”

In related news, a renowned Chinese columnist has lost his job at a magazine over commentaries on unrest in Tibet which did not conform with the official line, a watchdog group and a source with knowledge of the dismissal said yesterday.

Zhang Ping, who writes under the pen name Chang Ping, was sacked as deputy chief editor of the Southern Metropolis Weekly magazine, the Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said.

The group said in an e-mail Zhang’s departure was “because of his editorials about Tibet,” including the controversial piece “How to find the truth about Lhasa?”

“We deplore this unfair removal of a well-known member of the liberal press,” the statement said.

Zhang declined to comment when reached by telephone.

The source, requesting anonymity, confirmed the sacking but declined to provide further details.

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