A heads up for our latest take on Tibet, which is actually an amplification with more reporting of an earlier blog post (see below). It really does seem like this is crunch time and if this opportunity is let slip by Beijing and things turn ugly again on the ground it could means years and years of misery. These things are always tricky to judge with –to put it mildly–imperfect information, but the Dharamsala government in exile appears to be practically begging Beijing to take its offer with very few if any preconditions. What are the odds of it being accepted? Reading the tea leaves of internal politics at Zhongnanhai (the Communist Party headquarters in Beijing) is a whole separate art that I don’t pretend to have even begun to master. However, I am told by those who know that President Hu Jintao has been doing a good deal of behind the scenes maneuvering to get his people appointed to Tibet related positions and is now more firmly in control of the policy/decision making process than ever before. This is very much his responsibility, and he will get the brunt of the credit or blame for how it plays out. That’s not only because it is a huge internal issue, but because it also affects the Olympics, external relations etc. And of course, he was Party Secretary in Tibet during the last crackdown in 1989. All of which might lead you to think he’ll take the olive branch and take a giant step to solving a persistent problem. It would still be a bold gesture for Hu to agree to meet the Dalai Lama, which seems to be the main object of all this. And it’s always easier to not do something and continue with the status quo than to take a gamble and risk looking weak, an internal backlash etc. Hu’s character, past behavior and a lifetime of experience all mitigate in that direction, and on balance I think he won’t take the plunge.