Left hand, Right hand, Black Hand?

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Two reports out today seem to point in opposite directions:

Dalai Lama lambasted for ‘abusing religion’

Reuters in Beijing

4:15pm, Mar 31, 2008

Beijing stepped up its attacks on the Dalai Lama on Monday, blasting him for abusing religion, stirring protests in Tibet and preparing for independence as the Olympic flame arrived in Beijing under tight security.

The scorn aimed at Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader indicated Beijing was digging in its heels in the face of mounting pressure from abroad to engage in dialogue with the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

The pressure follows weeks of protests and suppression in Tibetan-populated areas of China.

A report by Xinhua said the government had evidence the Dalai Lama and his supporters had planned the rash of anti-Chinese unrest across the Himalayan region and nearby areas this month.

So this means the Dalai Lama planned the whole thing, is a “jackal in monk’s robes” as he was early described and basically there’s no chance of of negotiation, right? Well, not exactly. Look at another report, this from the South China Morning Post:

Wen calls on Dalai Lama to preach calm

Talks could follow Tibetan spiritual leader’s use of influence on rioters, premier says

Choi Chi-yuk in Vientiane and Raymond Li

Mar 31, 2008

Premier Wen Jiabao has urged the Dalai Lama to use his influence to stop the ongoing violence in Tibet before the central government resumes talks with the Tibetan spiritual leader.

The premier, who is in Laos for the Third Greater Mekong Sub-Region Summit opening in Vientiane today, said “the door is always open for dialogue with the Dalai Lama provided he gives up his position on independence and recognises Tibet and Taiwan are inseparable parts of Chinese territory”.

He said that the Dalai Lama should use his influence to end the unrest in Tibet.

In fact, the Dalai Lama has stated often that he is not seeking independence (he wants “autonomy” though that’s a whole other ball of wax) and recognizes that Tibet and Taiwan are integral parts of China. He has also urged Tibetans not to resort to violence and in fact threatened to resign of there was any further violent protests. All of which presumably means , so Premier Wen’s apparent conditions for a meeting –which would be a huge step forward– in theory can be easily met.

So which is the true face of Chinese policy? I spoke recently with Jiang Wenran, a China scholar at the University of Alberta who spends a lot of time with senior officials and academics in Beijing. He says that this apparent dissonance is fairly typical (think about the invective poured on Henry Kissinger while he was actually negotiating with Beijing secretly) and that in fact Wen and President Hu Jintao are above all “very practical” people who know something has to be done to address the Tibet problem, which is clearly not going away anytime soon.