"I want to stress that this current contact is only a beginning,'' The Australian quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang as saying in reference to the talks between Chinese officials and two of the Dalai Lama's envoys. "The Central Government's contact with the Dalai is sincere. So long as the Dalai's side exerts sincerity, especially in its actions, then the contact will continue.'' The talks, held in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on Sunday, were the first meeting between the two sides in more than a year.
The Chinese Government offered to hold the talks following sustained pressure from international leaders to reopen negotiations amid seven weeks of deadly unrest in Tibet and other parts of China with Tibetan populations. One of the Dalai Lama's envoys gave a positive assessment of the talks today, as he stopped in Hong Kong on his way back to the Tibetan government-in-exile's base in India. "All very candid. We had very candid discussions,'' Lodi Gyari said. "It was a good first step," he added.
China has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama of wanting independence for his homeland and of orchestrating the unrest in an effort to shine a world spotlight on Tibet ahead of the Beijing Olympics in August.