September 1, 2003
First of all, I am happy to report, as has been widely covered in the press, that two of my envoys have re-established contacts with the Chinese authorities. These culminated in meetings in September last year and May / June of this year. I believe it is critically important for us not only to maintain these contacts, but also to build on them with a view to engaging eventually in substantive negotiations on the issue of Tibet.
I am encouraged by these preliminary contacts. However, as I believe that the sustained campaign waged by the various Tibet Support Groups has been a major contributory factor in bringing them about, it is important that such efforts to promote awareness of the Tibet issue be maintained. I continue to believe that my Middle Way approach, acknowledging Chinese interests in Tibet within the context of genuine autonomy for the Tibetan people that allows for the preservation of our unique cultural heritage and identity, is the only practical way forward.
One development that I find particularly encouraging is the growing number of our Chinese brothers and sisters who are coming out in support of our Middle Way stand. This is a clear indication that a large number of Chinese are coming to see that the focus of the Tibetan people’s non-violent struggle is not against China; it is for justice.
I hope that the Fourth Tibet Support Group Conference will build on past efforts in providing a forum for Chinese, Tibetans and our international friends to explore ways and means of achieving genuine autonomy for the six million Tibetan people within a stable and prosperous People’s Republic of China.
As always, on behalf of the Tibetan people, I would like to express my deep appreciation of the activities of Tibet Support Groups around the world. Your support and the sacrifices you have made in defending the Tibetan cause will be a source of great encouragement for downtrodden people everywhere. I remain optimistic that a just solution to the issue of Tibet is within our reach. Nevertheless, now is not the time to relax or slacken our will; on the contrary we need to press on with renewed determination and courage.