Rebuffing the Dalai Lama's remarks that there were "encouraging signs" about China changing its attitude towards Tibet, a top Chinese official has said there would be no breakthrough in talks until the Tibetan spiritual leader changed his stand on "some fundamental issues".
Playing down expectations of any "new approach," Xu Zhitao, an official with the United Front Work Department of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CPC) Central Committee, denied any recent official visits to hold talks with the Dalai in his exile.
There would not be any negotiations at least until the end of the year, state-run Global Times quoted Xu as saying in response to reports on the Dalai's comments that there were encouraging signs about shifting of attitude of China towards Tibet as the CPC geared up to elect a new leadership.
He was apparently indicating that the talks were possible only after the new leadership of CPC assumes office, likely from next year.
Xu said "China will continue to be flexible with the Dalai Lama but it seems that no result will come out if he does not change his attitude toward some fundamental issues."
The central government has insisted that the Dalai Lama or his "Tibet government-in-exile" cannot represent the Tibetan people.
There can only be discussions on how the Dalai Lama should "stop his separatist speeches and win the trust of the central government as well as the forgiveness of the Chinese people," Xu said.
According to Xu, the Dalai Lama seeks to control everything in the Tibet Autonomous Region except foreign affairs and national defence, just as it was in Tibet before 1959.
"The so-called autonomy of Tibet the Dalai Lama claims to be seeking is actually the independence of Tibet, which is definitely forbidden," Xu said.
Since 2002, the Chinese government has negotiated with representatives of the Dalai Lama on 10 occasions, including the latest in 2010, but no breakthroughs were reached because of "sharply divided" views, according to an earlier report by state-run Xinhua news agency.
Global Times, in its report on Friday, quoted the Dalai as saying in a media interview that some Chinese officials seemed to agree that a new approach needed to be adopted to deal with the issue of Tibet in the face of over 50 self-immolations in the Tibetan-held areas.
The "Tibet government-in-exile" is "ready for full cooperation with them" if they are "thinking more realistically," the Dalai was quoted as saying, adding that he based his presumptions on views expressed by some of the "Chinese friends" who met him.
"I can't say for definite, but according to many Chinese friends, they say the new, coming leadership seems more lenient," the Tibetan spiritual leader was quoted as saying. He based his expectations on the change of the decade-long CPC leadership led by President Hu Jintao who, critics say, has followed a hardline approach towards Tibet, focussing only on its material development while cracking down hard on dissent, leaving a spiritual void in the Himalayan region where Buddhism played central part in people's lives.
Hu and his generation of leaders are set to retire later this year after the key CPC Congress, which is expected to be held either next month or little later to elect a new leadership.
Vice President Xi Jinping is widely expected to succeed Hu.
The Dalai is apparently banking his hopes on Xi, as he knew his father Xi Zhongxun in early 1950s.
Xi Zhongxun, who was regarded as a liberal CPC leader, was jailed by Mao Zedong in 1968 during the Cultural Revolution.
The Dalai was quoted as saying in the interview that he was sure China would, sooner or later, realise that "using force for 60 years completely failed" and its revolutionary leader Mao Zedong's idea that power came from the barrel of a gun was "outdated".
Xiong Kunxin, a professor of ethnic studies at the Minzu University of China, told the daily that the Dalai Lama seemed to have softened his speeches in a bid to draw some attention to the Tibet issue, while China has recently been occupied with territorial issues in the East China Sea and the South China Sea.