Tibet’s spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Tuesday called for a “realistic” approach to resolving the Tibet question, warning that viewing the dispute merely through the prism of history would only aggravate the situation.
Citing the Israeli-Palestinian turmoil as an example, he said the Middle East conflict had been prolonged because both sides had used the historical context to back their territorial claims.
The Dalai Lama said that Beijing and Tibetans should make efforts to bring an end to their dispute through compromise and by considering mutual interests.
“Political changes should be looked at from a realistic angle, not just through the prism of history; doing so would only provoke conflict,” the Dalai Lama told RFA’s Tibetan Service in an interview in the Himalayan town of Choglamsar in Leh, the capital of Ladakh district of India-administered Kashmir.
“For instance, the Palestinians and the Israeli Jews both lay claim to territory from the past. Dealing with the issue based on historical records has only aggravated the Middle East conflict since 1948,” he said.
The Chinese authorities and Tibetans should regard the Middle East crisis as an example to understand the “reality” of the situation, he said.
“On the Tibetan issue too, we need to think of mutual interests of both [Tibet and Beijing] instead of pursuing a ‘I win, you lose’ policy, which is not appropriate, and will not help resolve the situation,” the Dalai Lama said.
The 79-year-old Dalai Lama, who is living in exile in India where he fled to following a failed 1959 Tibet national uprising against Chinese occupation, has been the face and symbol of the Tibetan struggle for freedom for more than five decades.
He has been seeking “genuine” autonomy for Tibet based on his Middle Way approach, which does not seek separation from China.
A dialogue between Beijing and the Dalai Lama’s envoys since 2002 to consider prospects of "genuine" autonomy had ground to a halt in 2010 without any breakthrough after nine formal rounds of discussion and one informal meeting.
Beijing has rebuffed calls for a resumption of the dialogue.
Living up to slogan
The Dalai Lama said Tuesday that Beijing should live up to its “brotherhood of nationalities” slogan by giving equal treatment to all groups in China for mutual benefit.
“From a historical point of view, Tibetans and Chinese have a unique relationship. From that perspective, we should think about mutual benefit,” he said.
“The Chinese government’s official political announcements usually refer to brotherhood of nationalities. If this is true, and the nationalities are truly equal, then China and Tibet can mutually benefit,” said the Dalai Lama, who was in Ladakh to confer Kalachakra, a Buddhist process that empowers his disciples to attain enlightenment.
Asked whether he still wanted to achieve his long held objective of conducting a Kalachakra ceremony in China, he said Buddhism has been growing rapidly in the world’s most populous nation.
Buddhism in China
He then referred to a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping during a visit to France recently in which Xi said that Buddhism had played a significant role in China’s culture.
“For a leader of the Communist Party of China to say such a thing is a matter of amazement, a new idiom, a new statement,” the Dalai Lama said.
Xi had said in his address at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris in March that after Buddhism was introduced into China, the religion went through an extended period of integrated development with the indigenous Confucianism and Taoism and "finally became the Buddhism with Chinese characteristics."
It made "a deep impact on the religious belief, philosophy, literature, art, etiquette and customs of the Chinese people," Xi said.
Reported by Kalden Lodoe for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Benpa Topgyal. Written in English by Parameswaran Ponnudurai.