Page last updated at 17:51 GMT, Monday, 10 August 2009 18:51 UK

Tibet 'Chinese issue' says Dalai

By Shirong Chen
BBC News

The Dalai Lama on Uighur-Han clashes: "Any violence is wrong"

The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has said the Tibetan issue is a Chinese domestic problem.

His statement, given in an interview with the BBC, may breathe new life into the deadlocked talks between him and the government in Beijing.

But he also said Beijing's policy on ethnic minorities was a "failure".

The Dalai Lama has been campaigning for "meaningful autonomy" for Tibetans within China, but talks ended last year in bitter accusations from Beijing.

Between 2002 and 2008, nine rounds of negotiations were conducted between Chinese officials and his representatives.

They degenerated from the initial cautious welcome to recriminations from the Chinese side.

Waiting for signals

In an exclusive interview with the BBC, the Dalai Lama said: "The Chinese government considers our problem a domestic one. And we also."

From the late 1980s, his "middle way" approach to the Tibet issue has gained international sympathy and eventually won him the Nobel Peace Prize.

China says Tibet was always part of its territory
Tibet enjoyed long periods of autonomy before 20th century
In 1950, China launched a military assault
Opposition to Chinese rule led to a bloody uprising in 1959
Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama fled to India
Dalai Lama now advocates a "middle way" with Beijing, seeking autonomy but not independence

But his proposals, including autonomy for Tibetans outside the present boundary of the Tibet Autonomous Region, have been described by Beijing as a "back door to splitting the motherland".

The mood worsened last year after the riots in Lhasa and other Tibetan communities surrounding Tibet.

The 74-year-old Dalai Lama put on a brave face during the wide-ranging and candid interview.

However, he admitted there had been no contact with Beijing after the talks with the Chinese government became deadlocked last year.

"We are simply waiting" for Beijing to send signals, he said.

On the future of the relationship between the Chinese government and the Tibetan community, the Dalai Lama pointed out that there were growing signs of frustration and resentment among the younger generation.

As long as he lived they would follow his instructions on non-violence, he said, but after he was gone they would have a free hand, something he called "quite serious".

The Tibet issue reflects wider ethnic problems in China.

While acknowledging the Chinese Communist Party as adaptive to new realities, the Dalai Lama described China's policy on ethnic minorities as "a failure".

He said Beijing's approach to the autonomous regions of Xinjiang and Tibet was not realistic.

"They always look from only one angle - how to keep, how to control. Only that angle. They don't care about what the local people are feeling."

Nevertheless, the Dalai Lama called the recent riots in Xinjiang "very sad", saying he totally disagreed with violence and that "that kind of riot is no help to solving the problem".

The Chinese embassy in the UK was shown the interview and asked for a response, but declined to do so.

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