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Dalai Lama bemoans cultural diversity-blind Chinese leaders

(TibetanReview.net, Nov11’21) – Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has on Nov 10 expressed disappointment that leaders of China lacked understanding of “the variety of different cultures”. Speaking at an online press conference at the end of a virtual lecture on the theme ‘Cultivating a Good Heart’, organised by the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan, the 86-year-old Nobel Peace Laureate has also said he had no plan to visit Taiwan as he did not want to get involved in “complicated politics” at the present juncture.

Denying any particular plan to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Dalai Lama said Tibet had its unique culture but “Chinese communist leaders, they do not understand the variety of different cultures.” And he felt that “in reality, too much control will harm people.”

“Regarding Tibet and Xinjiang, we have our own unique culture … It is not just the Han people. There are Tibetans, Uyghurs and other different groups. That should [be reflected] in policy matters,” he said.

And as assimilationist President Xi looks to prolong his rule for five more years and beyond without any term limit, the Dalai Lama expressed hope that things in China would improve once the “newer generation” takes charge of the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership in the future.

The Dalai Lama retired from politics in 2011 and his remarks came as President Xi has embarked on a new Sinicization drive under which constitutional guarantees of cultural and linguistic rights of ethnic and religious minorities are being set aside in a quest to build a People’s Republic of China that speaks one, common language.

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Asked whether he would visit Buddhist-dominated Taiwan, the Dalai Lama said he would avoid doing so since cross-strait relations were at the moment “quite delicate”. He did not want to become involved in “local and political difficulties,” but was dedicated to making contributions to “brothers and sisters” in both Taiwan and mainland China. However, he noted, “this situation is quite complicated.”

“I really pray for a unified mainland China and Taiwan,” he said, adding that he wanted the reunification process to be “peaceful”.

While Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang favours unification but only with a democratic China that respects human rights and rule of law, its ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) insists that the self-governing island is already a sovereign state.

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Asked about his long stay in India, dating back from 1959 after China occupied Tibet, the Dalai Lama did not see himself being able to return home any time soon. He said he still wished to visit China as he was “growing older” but “prefer[red] to remain in India peacefully”.

“I really enjoy my position here in India. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru [India’s first Prime Minister] chose my permanent residence here. And I really enjoy it here. I can communicate with everybody from here. So, it is very free.”

“In India, there is complete freedom and religious harmony. All the major world religions exist in India. I could contribute much more towards the preservation of Tibetan culture from here,” he added.

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