India firmer with China on Tibet issue: Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama waves from a car in Narita

The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, greets wellwishers upon his arrival at Narita International airport in Narita, near Tokyo, on 3 November 2012. The Dalai Lama arrived for a 12-day visit to hold dialogues with Japanese scientists. AFP/Getty Images/Toshifumi Kitamura

By Shishir Gupta | Hindustan Times

NEW DELHI, India, 3 November 2012

The 14th Dalai Lama on Friday said India was no longer “over-cautious” in dealing with China over the Tibet issue and expressed satisfaction that the Manmohan Singh government was “more firm” as compared to past in its bilateral engagement with Beijing.

In an exclusive interview to HT while en-route to Tokyo, the Dalai Lama said: “Earlier, I used to say that the Indian government was over-cautious with China over Tibet. But now, I have changed my opinion and I see that India is standing more firm in dealing with it. I saw this shift when I was allowed by the Indian government to go to Tawang in November 2009 despite reservations from Beijing.”

“Another example of this was that a day after visiting Chinese defence minister Liang Guanglie claimed last September that there were no PLA troopers in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), the Indian Army chief contradicted it, saying as many as 4,000 Chinese personnel are in the occupied area.”

He, however, was concerned over reports of growing corruption in India and hoped that for a country whose people are so spiritual minded, it should be less corrupted.

Talking about the change of guard in Chinese leadership after the 18th National Peoples’ Congress this month, the Dalai Lama said he preferred to “wait and watch” the power transition from President Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping before taking a call on the change of Chinese attitude towards Tibet.

“It is difficult to say whether China will adopt a moderate line on Tibet under the leadership of Xi Jinping as even Hu Jintao when he took over from Jiang Zemin a decade ago talked about harmonious China. At that time, I welcomed Hu’s statement but the past 10 years have been very difficult for Tibet. Let Xi take over China and maybe I can give a call after watching his policies on Tibet unfold over the coming months,” Dalai Lama said.

Talking about the frozen dialogue between the Tibetan government-in-exile and the Chinese government, Dalai Lama said that despite two attempts — one at the behest of Deng Xiaoping between 1979-1993 and the other during 2002-2010 — little progress has been made. “They call me a demon and a splittist, actually it is the PLA which acts as a splittist in Tibet,” the 77-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader said.

When asked whether the Chinese government was hoping that the Tibetan struggle would fizzle out after his life-cycle, the Dalai Lama said that he was not going to die at least for the next 15-20 years. “In Tibet it is a struggle between the power of gun and the power of truth. At the moment it is the gun which is ruling but ultimately it is truth that will win,” he said.

According to him, trust between India and China will only develop once situation in Tibet returns to “absolutely normal”. “The boundary dispute cannot be solved if there is fear and suspicion between the two countries,” he said.

While discussing Buddhism, the 14th Dalai Lama confirmed that more and more Han Chinese were being attracted to Tibetan Buddhism as they have discovered that it does not represent “lamaism” and has the true lineage from Nalanda in India.

The 14th Dalai Lama on Saturday said it was the Chinese repression and ethnic discrimination in Tibet which was forcing young men and women to end their lives and rejected the Chinese claim that he was instigating self-immolations.

Around 70 Tibetans have self-immolated protesting against China since the past year with seven persons burning to death between 20 to 25 October 2012.

“The unbearable situation in Tibet is the cause for these unfortunate events. I am very sad about the turn of events. These are symptoms of fear, hard line suppressive policy practiced by China in Tibet. The time has come for China to think more realistically,” he said.

Dalai Lama welcomed the Chinese government to send a delegation to India to examine his conversations with the visitors in Dharamshala in order to dispel any belief or notion that he was instigating self-immolations in Tibet.

“I am a free spokesman for the Tibet issue. I take orders from fellow Tibetans and do not direct them to any action,” he said.

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