The election of Lobsang Sangay, a Harvard Law School scholar, as prime minister of Tibet's government-in-exile was followed immediately by China's rejection of any talks with him on the future of Tibet.

This should not be taken as a rebuff from Beijing. Ironically, the retirement of the Dalai Lama from the government-in-exile while retaining his role as spiritual leader may open up an opportunity for talks between his representatives and the Chinese government.

For one thing, the Dalai Lama is no longer an official of a government that Beijing does not recognize.