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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

Dalai Lama wants an autonomous Tibet

October 21, 2007

Miami Herald
Oct. 20, 2007

By DALAI LAMA

Congress awarded the Dalai Lama the Congressional Gold Medal on
Wednesday. Below are excerpts from from his acceptance speech.

This recognition will bring tremendous joy and encouragement to the
Tibetan people for whom I have a special responsibility. Their welfare
is my constant motivation. And I always consider myself as their free
spokesman -- or spokesperson.

I believe that this award also sends a powerful message to those many
individuals who are dedicated to promoting peace, understanding and
harmony. On a personal note, I am deeply touched that this great honor
has been given to me, a Buddhist monk, born of a simple family from
the remote Amdo region of Tibet. . . .

The consistency of American support for Tibet has not gone unnoticed
in China. Where this has caused some tension in the U.S.- China
relations, I feel a sense of regret. Today I wish to share with you my
sincere hope that the future of Tibet and China will move beyond
mistrust [toward] a relationship based on mutual respect, trust and
recognition of common interests.

Today we watch China as it rapidly moves forward. Economic
modernization has led to wealth, modernization and great power.
Today's economic success of both India and China, the two most
populous nations, with long history of rich culture, is most
deserving. With their newfound status, these two countries are poised
to play important leading roles on the world stage.

To fulfill this role, I believe it is vital for China to have
transparency, rule of law and freedom of information. China being a
state of many nationalities, a key factor here would be how it ensures
the harmony and unity of its various peoples. For this, the equality
and the rights of these nationalities to maintain their distinct
identities are crucial.

With respect to my own homeland Tibet, many people, both from inside
and outside, feel deeply concerned about the consequences of the rapid
change taking place. Every year, the Chinese population inside Tibet
is increasing at an alarming rate.

If we are to judge by the examples of the population of Lhasa, there
is a real danger that the Tibetans will be reduced to an insignificant
minority in their own homeland.

Environmental threat

This rapid increase in population is also posing serious threats to
Tibet's fragile environment. [Tibet] being the source of many of
Asia's great rivers, any substantial disturbance in [its] ecology will
impact the lives of hundreds of millions. . . .

On the future of Tibet, let me take this opportunity to restate
categorically that I am not seeking independence. I am seeking a
meaningful autonomy for the Tibetan people within the People's
Republic of China. If the real concern of the Chinese leadership is
the unity and stability of PRC, I have fully addressed their concern.

I have chosen to adopt this position because I believe, given the
obvious benefits, especially in economic development, this would be in
the best interest for the Tibetan people.

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