January 25, 2010 / 11:00 AM / 10 years ago

Tibet envoys leave for fresh talks with China

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Top envoys of the Dalai Lama will arrive in China for talks on Tuesday, the Tibetan government-in-exile said, the latest attempt to revive dialogue that has stalled since 2008.

The two sides have held eight rounds of talks since 2002, but little of substance has been achieved. The last round of discussions in July 2008 ended in acrimony.

The envoys, Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen, will be accompanied by three other Tibetan officials, the Tibetan government-in-exile based in the northern Indian hill town of Dharamsala said in a statement on Monday.

China’s Foreign Ministry referred questions relating to the Tibetan envoys to the United Front Work Department, which was not available for comment. The Religious Affairs Bureau was also unavailable.

The envoys’ visit come days after Beijing held a top policy meeting on Tibet. The meeting pledged to “leap-frog” the development of Tibet by raising infrastructure quality and agricultural incomes to national levels by 2020, according to a Xinhua news agency report at the weekend [ID:nTOE60M00E].

Tibet’s potential for social instability makes it a possible risk for investors in China and a key area for foreign governments interested in the country’s peaceful development, analysts say.

But any significant progress at the talks on Tuesday was unlikely and the dialogue could be more a Chinese need to be seen as engaging the Tibetans to resolve the issue.

“Because the international community is beginning to perceive all these years of talks as a cynical Chinese exercise, there is a greater degree of accountability now devolving on Beijing,” said Alka Acharya, professor of East Asia studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi.

China accuses Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, who fled Tibet after a failed 1959 uprising against Communist rule, of manipulating opinion and governments in the West.

China has blamed the Dalai Lama’s “clique” for the deadly unrest in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas in 2008.

The Dalai Lama says he is campaigning for meaningful autonomy for the strategic Himalayan border region. But China, which says it sent troops in 1950 to Tibet to liberate the country from feudal serfdom, says he is bent on independence.

Additional reporting by Lucy Hornby in BEIJING; Editing by Matthias Williams and Sanjeev Miglani

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