Dalai Lama announces new strategy and does not rule out independence

Tibetan leader says he has ‘given up’ on his bid to adopt a ‘middle way approach’ in the conflict with China · Exiled Tibetan leaders to consider all means of non-violent protest when they discuss future strategies next month · Beijing wants to hold fresh talks with the Buddhist leader in the near future.

China's relations with Tibet may have entered a new phase after the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and political leader of the Tibetan people, announced that he had "given up" on his attempt to find a "middle way" in the conflict, saying that he would now consider more ambitious proposals such as full independence. In the past, the Dalai Lama has only called for greater autonomy for his country and this is the stance he has adopted in the seven rounds of talks with the Chinese authorities that have taken place so far.

Now, a matter of days before yet another meeting with representatives of the Chinese Government, the Dalai Lama has said he does not believe Beijing will make any concessions. He also announced that the consultative body of the Tibetan community in exile would meet in November. "He's lost hope in trying to reach a solution with the present Chinese leadership which is simply not willing to address the issues," said a spokesman for the Dalai Lama.

Dharamshala, the northern Indian town where the Tibetan government-in-exile is based, will be the venue for the special meeting in November, which will bring together approximately 300 delegates to discuss which strategies should be employed from now on. The Dalai Lama has publicly declared that his only condition is that all forms of protest are peaceful. This could mark a historic turning-point for the Tibetan movement, which may soon demand full independence for the first time. Independence is already the favoured option in some sectors of the movement, and it may become even more popular now that the Chinese authorities are stepping up pressure on the Tibetan people.

The Buddhist leader has always called for Tibet to be transformed into a "Zone of Peace" with the status of an autonomous administrative region within the Chinese state. Major issues such as diplomacy and defence would remain in Chinese hands. But his demands have been rejected again and again by the Chinese Government, which believes that they would pave the way for independence in the long run.

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