Exiled Tibet PM 'not challenging' China Communists

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The leader of Tibet's exiled government said he would accept the Chinese Communist Party's rule in the territory, assuring Beijing it faced no threat to its sovereignty if it eases its grip.

Mr Lobsang Sangay, who was elected in 2011 to a new position of prime minister in exile after the Dalai Lama gave up political duties, appealed to China for new talks on the grievances that have triggered a wave of self-immolations.

On a visit to Washington, Mr Sangay said on Wednesday that the exiled government based in Dharamshala, India, was "not challenging China's sovereignty or territorial integrity" through its repeated calls for greater autonomy.

"What we seek is genuine autonomy as per the framework of the Chinese constitution. In short, if the Chinese government implements their own law, we would take that as genuine autonomy," he said at the Council on Foreign Relations think tank.

"That, we think, is a moderate, reasonable solution which is a win-win proposition both for the Chinese government and the Tibetan people." China's constitution grants Tibet autonomy.

Mr Sangay expressed hope that Tibetans would assume decision-making positions in the region - notably party secretary - and said he did not oppose the control of China's ruling Communists.

"We don't challenge, or ask for, an overthrow of the Communist Party. We don't question or challenge the present structure of the ruling party," he said.

Mr Sangay called for greater opportunities for Tibetans, saying that a recent mine landslide in Tibet that killed 83 workers - virtually all of them from China's Han majority - showed how few Tibetans shared the wealth.

China says it has brought development to Tibet. It has questioned the sincerity of the government in exile and the Dalai Lama, Tibet's world-revered spiritual leader who fled to India in 1959, accusing them of secretly supporting separatism and violence.