The Dalai Lama is a man of peace and forbearance. So it is a measure of Tibet’s suffering and growing desperation that he accused China’s government on Tuesday of turning Tibet into a “hell on earth.” We only hope Beijing heeds his warnings before it is too late. The Tibetan spiritual leader still advocates a “middle way” of non-violence. But China stubbornly refuses to pursue serious compromise on Tibet. Since the failed uprising Beijing has suppressed Tibet’s religion, culture, language and identity to near extinction.

China has invested heavily in recent years to improve the quality of life in Tibet. But that is cancelled out by harsh restrictions on the Tibetans’ rights. We accept that Beijing must protect lives and property from unrest. But it responded to the 50th anniversary with force rather than reason by sending in thousands more troops, ordering monks to stay indoors and cutting off cellphone and Internet services.

Beijing insists that the Dalai Lama’s real plan is to break Tibet away from China, even though he has repeatedly endorsed autonomy. It is long past time for serious talks to test the Dalai Lama’s intentions. This week, China’s president, Hu Jintao, called for building a “Great Wall” of stability in Tibet. But without serious negotiations, and a political solution, there will be only instability.