China says door wide open for Dalai Lama to return

Beijing: China on Thursday said the "door is wide open" for the Dalai Lama to return from exile if the spiritual leader sheds the demand for an independent Tibet but ruled out any contact with the India-based Tibetan government in exile.

China`s top Tibetan official said "it all depends" on the Dalai Lama to act in light of Chinese government`s stand.

"It all depends on the Dalai Lama himself whether he returns or not. The key lies with him. The door is wide open and he knows the Chinese government`s stance for sure," Padma Choling, Chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region, told a press conference held in connection with 60th year "liberation of Tibet" by China.

This is perhaps a rare occasion that a Chinese official spoke about the return of the Dalai Lama from his exile in Dharmashala.

The Chinese government did not accede to the Dalai Lama`s request to allow him visit his native Tibetan province Qinghai when it was hit by a devastating earthquake last year.

In a press conference televised live across the country, Choling ruled out talks with Tibetan government in exile headed by newly-elected Prime Minister Lobsang Sangay, saying that it has no representational status as it is not recognised by any government in the world, least of all China.

Tibet`s "feudal serfdom system" with conjoined political and religious authority was abolished in 1959, he pointed out.

"You said the Dalai Lama has picked a successor. But what he is going to succeed, and from whom?" Choling said, asserting that his is the "the only legitimate government elected by Tibetans since 1965".

But at the same, he said, Chinese government is willing to talk to Dalai Lama and his representatives.

"As long as the Dalai Lama abandons his advocacy for independent Tibet, stops separatist activities against China, recognises that Tibet is an inalienable part of China and Taiwan is a province of China we can enter into contact with him on whatever topic," he said.

But the Dalai Lama has not met "these criteria".

"Our door to contact with Dalai is always open. What matters most is whether he will truly abandon advocacy of independent Tibet. We must not just (look) at what he says but also look at what does," he said.

China held several rounds of talks with the Dalai Lama`s representatives in the past but made the dialogue made no headway despite repeated assertions by him that he recognised Tibet as part of China.

The Dalai Lama had however demanded on autonomy on the lines of Hong Kong and Macau and also insisted on greater Tibet, meaning unifying all Tibetan areas. Sangay himself was part of the talks in the past.