An Olive Branch From the Dalai Lama

From New York Times:

When the Olympics open on Friday, the Dalai Lama won’t be there. Each side put out feelers about his attendance and was tantalized by the idea, but in the end the mutual distrust was too great to overcome.

is one of the major shadows over the Olympics and over China’s rise as a great power, sullying its international image and triggering unrest that is likely to worsen in coming years. Yet that doesn’t have to be.

In June, I sat down for a private meeting with the , and we talked at length about what kind of a deal he and China might be willing to accept. He was far more flexible and pragmatic about a resolution of the Tibet question than public statements had led me to believe. But he also wonders if his engagement policy with China is getting anywhere: If the stalemate continues, he may just give up on Beijing.

I have continued the discussion with Tibetan officials since then (just as I have had similar discussions with Chinese officials), and China’s perception of the Dalai Lama as sticking rigidly to old positions is mistaken. The Dalai Lama recognizes that time is running out, and he is signaling a willingness to deal — comparable to the way President Richard Nixon sent signals to Beijing that he was ready to rethink the China-U.S. relationship before his visit to China in 1972.

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