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Dalai Lama pilgrimage to China’s Mt Wutai very unlikely this year

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama greets an audience before his religious speech in Tokyo, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (Photo courtesy/AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama greets an audience before his religious speech in Tokyo, Monday, Nov. 25, 2013. (Photo courtesy/AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

(TibetanReview.net, Feb25, 2015) – The head of a Chinese government think tank has indicated that informal talks with the Dalai Lama for his possible pilgrimage to Mt. Wutai in China’s Shanxi province was on but that breakthroughs were needed and that a visit as early as this year was most unlikely, reported Nepal’s myrepublica.com Feb 24. The report cited Hu Shisheng, director at the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceania Studies of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), as saying the pilgrimage, if it takes place, will be a major breakthrough on the Tibet issue.

Hu’s remarks obviously suggest that China is seeking a major concession from the Dalai Lama, with the latter apparently finding it very difficult to grant it in the way Beijing wants it. The report quoted Hu as saying, “the possibility of the visit taking place within this year is still difficult since many issues are yet to reach an agreement.”

CICIR is an institution under the State Council of China and Director Hu is considered to be an influential expert on Tibet issues, the report said.

“If the Dalai Lama’s pilgrimage takes place, it would really be a breakthrough. I, however, don’t think it would be possible in very near future,” the report quoted Hu as saying. “There are a lot of differences between the central government and the Dalai Lama, and attempts at agreement have not been much fruitful.”

Regarding the issues on which the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama have differences, Hu has said they are over the “Panchen Lama, greater Tibet and diplomatic relations of Dalai Lama, Free Tibet issue with international communities and the history of Tibet”.

However, Hu seems to have avoided mentioning what is possibly the biggest difference between them, namely over the issue of the Dalai Lama’s possible reincarnation. China wants the Dalai Lama to reincarnate in a territory under its rule in order to seal the legitimacy of its rule over Tibet and has passed regulations to mandate it, but the latter insists his homeland should be guaranteed a genuine autonomy if such an eventuality is to be realized with his assent. This requires China to admit and resolve the issue of Tibet through negotiations, something it does not at all want to.

Apparently give this situation, Hu has indicated that a Dalai Lama pilgrimage this year would be historic but will likely not be realized. He was quoted as saying, “Beijing has been pondering the 50th anniversary of establishment of Tibet autonomous region with sensitivity and there is little chance of the pilgrimage taking place in the near future, especially within this year.”

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