The Chinese government said on Monday that it would give “no concessions” on the issue of Tibet’s sovereignty but the “door remained open” for talks with the Dalai Lama.
Envoys of the Tibetan religious leader have been in Beijing this past week for the ninth round of talks with the Chinese government on the question of Tibet’s autonomy. The talks, which have resumed after a 15-month hiatus, have made little progress.
Both sides have not released details on the specific issues that were discussed, or if any agreement was reached. But sources familiar with the discussions said the talks centred on the Dalai Lama’s proposals for a separate administrative body to ensure greater autonomy and protect Tibetans’ religious and cultural rights in Tibet and four other Chinese provinces, Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan.
A Chinese official said in a statement on Monday that the government remained opposed to any proposals based on the idea of a “Greater Tibet” - referring to Tibet and the four provinces - and demands for “higher autonomy.”
“Only if the Dalai Lama completely abandoned such claims could there be a foundation for contacts and talks,” said Du Qinglin, the head of the United Front Work Department of the ruling Communist Party’s Central Committee, which represents Beijing in the talks, according to a statement issued by state-run Xinhua news agency.
Mr. Du said “issues concerning China’s territory and sovereignty were non-negotiable”, and “no concessions would be made”. He also said that any demand for “high-level autonomy” for Tibetans violated the Chinese Constitution.
The Dalai Lama, however, maintains that his demands for greater autonomy were within the limits of the Chinese constitution. He has called on the Chinese government to do more to protect the religious rights and ethnic identity of Tibetans, which he says have been eroded under the Communist Party’s rule.
The talks, which concluded last week, come ahead of the Tibetan leader’s visit to the United States later this month, where he is expected to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama.