Dalai Lama says Chinese officials want to contact him over Tibet issues

China protested the Tibetan spiritual leader’s meeting with a U.S. delegation in New Delhi.
By Lobsang Gelek and Lobe Socktsang for RFA Tibetan
Dalai Lama says Chinese officials want to contact him over Tibet issues Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama presides speaks during a celebration of his 88th birthday at the Tsuglakhang temple in Dharamshala, India, Thursday, July 6, 2023.
Credit: Ashwini Bhatia/AP

UPDATED on 07-11-2023 at 10:07 a.m. EDT 

Tibet’s foremost spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has revealed that Chinese officials have sought contact with him, either “officially or unofficially” to discuss Tibet issues.

The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in Dharamsala, India, addressed reporters there on Saturday as he was about to depart for the Indian capital, New Delhi, and then a month-long sojourn in Ladakh.

“I am always open to talk, and Chinese officials have now realized that Tibetan people’s spirits are very strong, so in order to deal with Tibetan problems they want to contact me. I am also ready,” he said. 

The Dalai Lama, who celebrated his 88th birthday on July 6, did not specify when or how Chinese officials requested contact. He said that Tibetans are not seeking independence and have decided to remain part of the People’s Republic of China.

Liu Pengyu, a spokesman from the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C., told RFA in an email that the “door is open” to a discussion.

“But any of such talks can only be about personal future of Dalai, rather than the so-called 'Tibet issue,'” he said. “Dalai must give up his secessionist propositions, stop his activities of splitting the motherland, and take concrete actions to win trust from the Central Government and the Chinese people.”

China annexed Tibet in 1951 and maintains a tight rein on the western autonomous region.

“Now China is changing and Chinese officials want to contact me officially and unofficially,” the Dalai Lama said.

While in New Delhi on Sunday, the Dalai Lama visited with a delegation from the U.S. organized by the Office of Tibet in Washington. Led by U.S. special coordinator of Tibetan issues, Uzra Zeya, the delegation also included the assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asian affairs, Donald Lu, and a senior USAID official. 

Also attending the meeting was Penpa Tsering, leader of the Central Tibetan Administration, or CTA, the Dharamsala-based Tibetan government in exile, and Norzin Dolma, the CTA’s minister of information and international relations.

Diplomatic meetings with the Dalai Lama are controversial. In May last year, when Zeya visited the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, Beijing protested saying that Washington was interfering in China’s affairs. 

Regarding Sunday’s visit, China’s Embassy in India voiced Beijing’s objection on Twitter.

“The US should take concrete actions to honor its commitment of acknowledging Xizang [Tibet] as part of China, stop meddling in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of Xizang-related issues, and offer no support to the anti-China separatist activities of the Dalai clique,” the embassy’s spokesperson Wang Xiaojian said in the tweet. 

Such a response is typical for China, Tenzin Lekshey, the spokesperson for the CTA, told RFA.

 “The Chinese government has always been hostile whenever U.S. officials, or for that matter any dignitaries, meet with the Dalai Lama or Tibetan leaders from CTA, so this is not something new,” Tenzin Lekshey said.  

The spokesperson denied China’s claim that the Dalai Lama and the CTA are separatist, citing the Middle-Way Approach, a CTA official policy he described as a way to “peacefully resolve the issue of Tibet and to bring about stability and co-existence between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples based on equality and mutual cooperation.” 

The Chinese government must take the initiative to solve the Tibet problem,” he said.

Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Edited by Eugene Whong.

Updates with statement from Chinese Embassy spokesman. 


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Jul 11, 2023 12:00 PM

The reality is the CCP will never agree to any sort of autonomy or independence for Tibet and will never respect the human rights of Tibetans. Only independence will make Tibet truly free. All empires eventually fall. All Chinese dynasties fall. The CCP is just latest Chinese imperial dynasty & it will fall too. Then Tibetans, Uighurs and Chinese will truly be free again.