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Monday, October 18, 2004

 

Dalai Lama says Tibetan demands may change

In a candid conversation with Time magazine's Alex Perry at his cottage in McLeod Ganj, India, the Dalai Lama admits that he now believes the only way forward for the Tibetan people may be to "remain within China" - while hoping China preserves Tibet's unique culture. He makes the point that the PRC is "already in a win-win situation" as "it already controls Tibet". His new assessment includes:

“Despite some economic improvement and development, the threats to our cultural heritage, religious freedom and environment are very serious. Then also in the countryside, facilities in education and health are very, very poor. It's like the big gap in China proper between rich and poor. So the whole picture, it almost looks hopeless ... That's why we are trying to gain meaningful autonomy.

“Many communist and authoritarian regimes have changed, including the Soviet Union, not by force but by their own people. These are very positive developments. China [still has] the same system, but the reality is that much is changing. Freedom of information, religious freedom and freedom of the press are much better .... So on that level, the situation in Tibet is hopeful ...

“We renewed direct contact with Beijing three years ago. We're not expecting some major breakthrough-the Tibetan issue is very complicated, and China is oversuspicious and very cautious. It will take time …

“Some Tibetans now accuse me of selling out their right to independence. Even my eldest brother is for complete independence and he always accuses me [of this]. But my approach is actually in our own interest.

"Tibet is backward, it's a big land, quite rich in natural resources, but we completely lack the technology or expertise [to exploit them]. So if we remain within China, we might get a greater benefit, provided it respects our culture and beautiful environment and gives us some kind of guarantee. For us [it would mean] more modernization. The new railway [into Tibet], for instance. This is generally speaking a good thing, very beneficial for development, providing it is not used politically …”

Full story at A Conversation with the Dalai Lama

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