Thursday, November 20, 2008

Dalai Lama's elder brother Gyalo Thondup speaks out in Dharamsala

The Dalai Lama's elder brother, Gyalo Thondup, a former resistance leader whose meeting with Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979 began a series of contacts between Tibetans and the Chinese leadership, spoke publicly today in Dharamsala, India, to urge a continuation of engagement with China "because we have no choice". Thondup, who no longer serves in an official capacity, said that he also wanted to counter Chinese representations of the discussions following his own conversations with the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1979.

Eighty-year old Gyalo Thondup, a former chairman of the Tibetan cabinet (Kashag) in Dharamsala, was prompted to give a rare and detailed address to the media today after hardline comments by a Chinese official last week denying that Deng Xiaoping had said that "except independence all other issues can be settled through discussions". The Dalai Lama's Special Envoy Lodi Gyari had reminded the Chinese side of Deng's statement during the most recent eighth round of dialogue in the first week of November, but later his dialogue counterpart Zhu Weiqun, Executive Vice Minister of the Central United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party, said: "Comrade Deng Xiaoping had never made such a statement. It is a falsehood made by Gyari and is a complete distortion of Deng Xiaoping's statement." Gyalo Thondup said today that he was "shocked" by Zhu's comments, because "it was myself to whom the late paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping, said that "except independence all other issues can be settled through discussions" on March 12, 1979.
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