By Phurbu Thinley
Dharamsala, Jan 25: The envoys of the exiled Tibetan leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, are to arrive in China tomorrow to hold the much awaited ninth round of talks with representatives of the Chinese leadership, the Office of the His Holiness the Dalai Lama said in a statement today.
"His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy Lodi G. Gyari and Envoy Kelsang Gyaltsen will arrive in China tomorrow for discussions with the representatives of the Chinese leadership. This is the ninth round of dialogue," the statement said.
"The Envoys are visiting China after a gap of 15 months in the process that began in 2002," it added.
According to the statement, the envoys will be accompanied by senior assistants Tenzin P. Atisha, Bhuchung K. Tsering, both members of Tibetan Task Force on Negotiations, and Jigmey Passang from the Secretariat of the Tibetan Task Force.
The statement said the preparations for the talks to be held in Beijing were finalised during the two-day meeting of the Tibetan Task Force held last week in Dharamsala, the seat of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile in north India.
The envoys also briefed His Holiness the Dalai Lama and sought his guidance, the statement said.
The delegation is expected to return to India at the beginning of next month, the statement said, but gave no further detail.
The two sides had met for eight rounds of talks, the last one being in November 2008, days before the exile Tibetans met for a “Special Meeting” to discuss the future of their freedom movement. The meeting was the largest of its kind in 60 years and was called by the Dalai Lama in response to lack of any signs of progress in the dialogue process and the worsening state of affairs within Tibet following widespread anti-China protests that broke out in the region in 2008.
Talks between Dalai Lama's envoys and Beijing came to a standstill after a ""Memorandum on Genuine Autonomy for the Tibetan People” submitted by the Tibetan side at the eighth round of talks met with Beijing’s derision with the Chinese side calling it a demand for ‘half-independence’ and ‘disguised independence’ or ‘covert independence’.”
Tibetan side, however, maintains that the articles of the proposed memorandum were prepared in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of the PRC and its laws on National Regional Autonomy, and claims China has rejected the proposal without providing any “legal and rational explanations".
Following the eighth round of talks, the Tibetan Prime Minister Prof Samdhong Rinpoche, who also heads the Task Force, said at a public gathering in 2008 that the “Tibetan side had already made all the required clarifications and brought a process of dialogue that began in September 2002 to its logical conclusion.”
The Tibetan exile government in its statement on the 20th anniversary of the Dalai Lama's Nobel Peace Prize last month said it was committed to resume talks with Beijing on the basis of the "memorandum".
Earlier this month, the Tibetan prime minister told Asia Times Online that his government was ready to sidestep the blame game with China and would seek the earliest resumption of talks.
"The dialogue process may hopefully take a new shape this year," Rinpoche said. "I will not say that I have great expectations, but I would say that we have hope that some improvement will come in the process. We only demand people's support and unity regarding this issue and hope it will be resolved.”
"I do not need to say anything else, whatever is in progress is going good, and things will be resolved," Rinpoche said of the deadlock in the talks.
"The Tibet issue needs to be resolved through dialogue and negotiation between the Tibetan and People's Republic of China leadership," the Tibetan PM said, adding "I wish Tibetans' hopes will become a reality."