Dalai Lama says Tibet can remain a part of China: A look at the spiritual leader's position over the years

Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama on Monday had said that Tibet can remain a part of China as long as China respects Tibetans' culture and heritage.

"We are not seeking independence...We want to stay with China. We want more development," the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people had said.

He also welcomed the proposed visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to China and said the two countries together can make huge contributions in different fields.

File image of the Dalai Lama. PTI

File image of the Dalai Lama. PTI

Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese president Xi Jinping will hold an informal summit in China's Wuhan city from 27 to 28 April to exchange views on bilateral and international issues and to enhance mutual understanding between them.

China took control of Tibet in 1950 in what it called a “peaceful liberation”. In March 1959, the Dalai Lama, then 23 years old, fled to India along with his followers.

Then-prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru welcomed the monk and allowed him to make Dharamsala his seat. But the ties have weakened as India tries to improve relations with China and avoid a standoff such as a 73-day military face-off along a stretch of their disputed border in 2017.

According to CNN, the Dalai Lama has — since 1974 — sought "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet and not complete independence from China.

The Dalai Lama's current remarks on China are actually very different from his remarks on China in the past. In March last year, in an interview with comedian John Oliver, the Dalai Lama had said that Chinese hardliners have "parts of their brain missing."

"Our brain usually, you see, has the ability to create common sense...The Chinese hardliners, in their brain, that part of the brain, is missing," he had said.

In April that year, Dalai Lama had once again said that Tibet wanted autonomy rather than independence from China. "We are not seeking independence. we are willing to remain within the People’s Republic of China.”

“I always admire the spirit of the European Union. Individual nations’ sovereignty is important but that’s not so important. What is important is the common interests."

“So for material development to remain with the People’s Republic of China is in our interest. So, the Chinese government also should feel ok (sic). At the same time, the Chinese government should give us meaningful self-role or autonomy,” he had said.

He had also said that India had never used him against China. “India has never used me against China. I am a messenger of the ancient Indian thought and I talk about ahimsa, peace, harmony and secular ethics wherever I go,” he had said.

In November that year, the Dalai Lama had once again said that "the past is past" and Tibet wanted autonomy from China. "Tibet has a different culture and a different script... The Chinese people love their own country. We love our own country," Hindustan Times had quoted him as saying.

In 2012, he had said that talks with China on Tibet's future was futile unless it adopted a "realistic" stance, adding it was useless trying to convince Beijing he was not seeking full independence.

“The issue is (the people’s) basic right. In future, unless they start a realistic approach for the Tibetan problem inside Tibet, there’s not much to discuss,” the Dalai Lama had told Reuters.

In a 2008 interview to Newsweek, the Dalai Lama had also said that he was worried about violence between Tibetans and Chinese after he passed away. "Yes, I worry about that. As long as I am alive, I am fully committed to amity between Tibetans and Chinese. Otherwise there's no use. More importantly, the Tibetan Buddhist cultural heritage can eventually help bring some deeper values to the millions of Chinese youth who are lost in a (moral) vacuum. After all, China is traditionally a Buddhist country."

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Apr 25, 2018 13:34 PM

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