Beijing's sudden announcement on Friday that it was prepared to meet the Dalai Lama's representatives 'in the coming days' has drawn swift praise from western leaders but also scepticism over its motives from some overseas analysts. While Beijing insists it extended the invitation 'in view of the requests repeatedly made by the Dalai side to resume talks', the overseas analysts have largely concluded that the decision was made in response to growing calls from the west for Beijing to talk to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader. The brief announcement by Xinhua came after weeks of the official media accusing the Dalai Lama of instigating the riots in Lhasa . However, Beijing does not appear to have toned down denunciations of the so-called 'Dalai clique' at all. The propaganda machine continued to carry angry criticism over the weekend. What are the country's leaders up to? It is interesting to note that the announcement was made during a visit by European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso after his meetings with President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao . Mr Barroso, who along with other world leaders has urged Beijing to resume dialogue with the Dalai Lama, was obviously pleased and welcomed the talks. The praise for Beijing's decision came swiftly from Washington, Tokyo, Berlin and Paris, including French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has threatened to boycott the opening ceremony of the Olympics. Many analysts have drawn the obvious conclusion that Beijing's decision was prompted by its eagerness to ensure the Olympics are a success and go smoothly. That is only part of the story. The shift was more driven by the leaders' concerns that China's overall political and even economic relations with the west - the United States and the European Union in particular - would be seriously affected. By offering to meet the Dalai Lama, Beijing can reassure western leaders and give them some room to deal with the mounting pressure and criticism from the various human rights groups and media on their home fronts. Naturally, it is overly optimistic to expect any concrete results from the forthcoming meeting between Beijing officials and the Dalai Lama's representatives because of the current tensions. Indeed, if one reads the Xinhua announcement, it refers to the forthcoming meeting as mere 'contact and consultation', and said the formal talks could begin only after 'the Dalai side takes credible moves to stop activities aimed at splitting China, stop plotting and inciting violence, and stop disrupting and sabotaging the Beijing Olympic Games'. Yesterday, the People's Daily carried a commentary headlined 'Splitting the motherland is doomed to fail', blasting the 'Dalai clique' for never ceasing in its attempt to split the motherland, saying the issue of sovereignty was not subject to debate. But the offer to meet the Dalai Lama's representatives will help the mainland leadership regain some initiative in the public relations battle after it bungled badly in front of the international community. Amid rising nationalist fervour, many mainland intellectuals have written privately to the central government, urging leaders to tone down the nationalistic rhetoric and control the anti-western protests.