China’s government in Tibet claims that the Dalai Lama is in talks with Beijing through “personal envoys”, but the talks are only about the possibility of his return to Tibet.
Wu Yingjie, the Deputy Secretary of the Communist Party Committee for Tibet, told a group of Indian journalists in Lhasa on Sunday that the talks with the Dalai were “ongoing and always smooth, but we are discussing only his future, not Tibet’s.”
‘Many Tibetan leaders had chosen to return’
Mr. Wu said many Tibetan leaders had chosen to return to Tibet in recent years, giving the example of a senior Lama in Chengdu who returned from Switzerland.
“All Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama and the people around him, can return if they accept Tibet and Taiwan as part of China, and give up ‘splittist’ efforts,” he said.
When asked about the political talks with envoys from Dharamsala, that broke down after nine rounds in 2010, he termed their demands unacceptable. “How can the Dalai Lama demand that China withdraw its army from Tibet?” asked Mr. Wu. “The army is a symbol of our state. Will India agree to withdraw its Army from Arunachal Pradesh?” he said.
Mr. Wu also rejected the proposal by the Prime Minister of the self-styled “Tibetan government in exile”, Lobsang Sangay, for a larger region to be included in the Tibetan Autonomous Region.
India’s concerns on rail line allayed
Rejecting concerns in India over the >newly-inaugurated 250-kilometre rail-line from Lhasa to Shigatse that runs close to the Indian border in Sikkim, he said India, Nepal and China should cooperate on “letting railways cross over borders as they do in Europe.”
Responding to a question from The Hindu, he said, “Rest assured however many railway lines China builds, it will abide by the Panchsheel principles of coexistence.”
India has twin worries over the new constructions in Tibet, which will run close to Sikkim on the western line to Shigatse, and on the eastern line to Nyngchi, close to the Arunachal border, which are due to be completed by 2016. To begin with, the high-speed trains will facilitate quicker movement of military personnel and hardware to the Chinese side compared to India’s abilities at its border. Also, the Nepal government had asked for the Shigatse line to be extended to Kathmandu to ease travel from Nepal, Mr. Wu revealed.
Mega infra mission
The rail lines are part of China’s mission to build infrastructure on a large-scale in Tibet by 2020, indenting for 1,300 km of railway tracks, 1,10,000 km of roadways and several airports, with an investment of more than $13 billion in the last two decades.
Environmentalists have pointed out that the barrelling of tunnels through mountains will lead to soil erosion and have other ecological impact as well. Tibet’s Director General of Environmental Protection Jiang Bai, however, has said the construction process goes through “strict” environmental checks. “In the past too, if we are advised against disturbing one part of a mountain, we take a detour,” he said.