China Appears to Rule Out Talks with New Tibetan Leader

Newly elected head of the Tibetan government-in-exile Lobsang Sangay talks to the media after meeting with Tibetan activists on a hunger strike against blockade of the Kirti monastery in Sichuan province by Chinese forces, in New Delhi, India, Thursday, M

China appears to have ruled out talks with the new head of the exiled Tibetan government, saying it will only meet with representatives of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

In an interview with the state-owned "China's Tibet" magazine, a top official for Tibetan contacts ((Zhu Weiqun)) said the Tibetan government-in-exile has no legitimacy and no qualifications to engage in dialogue with representatives of the central government.

The incoming Tibetan prime minister had said Thursday that his administration is ready to negotiate with China "anytime, anywhere."

Lobsang Sangay was elected prime minister of the government-in-exile earlier this year, taking over a political role the aging Dalai Lama decided to give up.

Sangay says he will follow the Dalai Lama's "middle path" policy and seek regional autonomy for Tibet. The Harvard University legal scholar takes office in August in the Indian city of Dharmsala.

The government-in-exile has held nine rounds of talks with the Beijing government, but has made no progress toward reaching an agreement with China.

China seized control of Tibet in 1950, and the Dalai Lama fled his homeland in 1959. Beijing has said the Dalai Lama is intent on creating an independent Tibet, a claim he has denied.

Many Tibetans say China discriminates against them and wants to suppress their cultural and religious traditions. China denies that and says its policies have helped bring new prosperity to the impoverished region.