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Central gov't officials meet Dalai Lama's representatives
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Chinese central government officials and the private representatives of the 14th Dalai Lama agreed to hold another round of contact at an appropriate time when they met in Shenzhen on Sunday.

The meeting, arranged at the repeated requests made by the Dalai side for resuming talks, was held between central government officials Zhu Weiqun and Sitar (who uses only one name) and the Dalai Lama's two private representatives Lodi Gyari and Kelsang Gyaltsen.

The two representatives, who arrived in southern China city Shenzhen on Saturday, expressed their views on relevant matters and said they would report truthfully what had been discussed at the meeting to the Dalai Lama, sources told Xinhua.

Zhu and Sitar answered patiently the questions raised by the two representatives and exchanged views with them on future contacts and consultations.

"The two sides agreed another round of contact would be held at an appropriate time," the sources said.

During the meeting, Zhu and Sitar pointed out that the riot in Lhasa on March 14 had given rise to new obstacles for resuming contacts and consultations with the Dalai side.

However, the central government still arranged this meeting with great patience and sincerity, they said.

Earlier on Sunday, President Hu Jintao said in Beijing he hoped the Shenzhen meeting between central government officials and the Dalai Lama's private representatives could yield "positive results".

"Our policy toward the Dalai Lama is clear and consistent, and the door for dialogue remains open," Hu told journalists from 16 Japanese media organizations during an interview.

Since the year 2000, the officials said, the central government had managed to hold six meetings with the Dalai Lama's private representatives in spite of a number of obstacles.

According to them, it was the hope of the central government that to create conditions for the next round of contact and consultation, the Dalai side would be as good as their words and take credible moves to stop activities aimed at splitting China, stop plotting and inciting violence and stop disrupting and sabotaging the Beijing Olympic Games.

The officials said the Lhasa riot, which was against people's will, had jeopardized the fundamental interests of all the Chinese people including Tibetans and caused great public indignation and strong condemnation by people from various walks of life.

A total of 18 innocent civilians and one police officer died in the riot, in addition to 382 injured civilians and 241 policemen.

It also left seven schools, five hospitals and 120 homes torched and 908 shops looted.

The officials said it was completely correct for the local government to take actions in accordance with the law to maintain social stability and to safeguard the country's legal system and the people's essential interest.

As the Lhasa riot had been put down, social order was being restored, they said. Religious followers there were enjoying full freedom of religious belief, and the people were yearning for stability and development.

The officials said facts showed that the guiding policies of the central government on Tibet were correct. Through the concerted efforts of people from all ethnic groups, Tibet would have an even better future.

Official statistics revealed that the Tibet economy had been growing at an annual rate of 12 percent or more over the past seven years.

According to the latest census conducted in 2000, the population of Tibetans rose to more than 2.41 million from 1.2 million in 1964 and accounted for 92 percent of the total in the region.

The central government has allocated more than 700 million yuan (nearly 1 million U.S. dollars) since 1980 to maintain 1,400 monasteries and cultural relics.

Tibet has more than 1,700 religious sites for Tibetan Buddhism that accommodate 46,000 monks and nuns. Also included are four mosques for 3,000 Muslims as well as one Catholic church for 700 believers.

The Chinese central government announced the decision to meet the Dalai Lamas private representatives on April 25 in view of the requests repeatedly made by the Dalai side for resuming talks.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu had expressed the hope that the Dalai Lama and his followers could "cherish" this opportunity for contact and consultation.

Jiang said at a regular press conference on April 29 that Tibet is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory and Tibet affairs are completely internal affairs of China.

Any contact and consultation between the central government and the Dalai side were China's internal affairs, she said, adding, "On the issue of safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Chinese government and people will never yield to any pressure from outside."

(Xinhua News Agency April 5, 2008)

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