Analyzing Chinese Official Zhang Yijiong’s Remarks on Dalai Lama and Tibet

November 2, 2017 By Bhuchung K. Tsering, International Campaign for Tibet

s part of the events connected with the just concluded 19th Chinese Communist Party National Congress, there was a press conference on October 21, 2017 during which, Zhang Yijiong, the executive vice minister of the Central United Front Work Department, talked about the Dalai Lama and Tibet.

A Phoenix TV correspondent had asked a two-part question: “Despite China’s firm opposition, some countries have been inviting him [the Dalai Lama] for a visit, and he has just concluded a visit to Europe. Will China take more steps to express such opposition? On the religious freedom in Tibet, in your opening remarks you said that we must ensure the Chinese orientation of religions. Will that be more work done in this regard?”

In his response, Zhang repeated the Party line about the Dalai Lama being “a leader of a separatist group that is engaging in separatist activities”, and therefore the Chinese Government oppose any meetings by governments and others with him.

However, it is a fact known not only to the international community, but even to the Chinese themselves that the Dalai Lama has since the mid-1970s been seeking a solution for a future Tibet that is within the framework of the People’s Republic of China. It is precisely for this reason that he could respond immediately and positively to the overture of then Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979 who said other than the independence of Tibet anything else can be discussed and resolved. United Front leader Ding Guangen repeated, in 1992, this assurance by Deng Xiaoping and by a Chinese official spokesperson in 1993. On August 25, 1993, Xinhua quoted a spokesperson of the Chinese Foreign Ministry as saying,“The affairs of Tibet are an internal business of China’s and the door of negotiations between the central government and the Dalai Lama remains widely open. Except independence of Tibet, all other questions can be negotiated.”[Source]

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