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Chinese settlements in Tibet 'demographic aggression'

January 26, 2008

By Claude Arpi

Ahmedabad, Jan 24, 2008 (IANS) The Dalai Lama is still hopeful of
resolving the Tibetan issue with China but he fears that a "demographic
aggression" by the Han Chinese will make autonomy for his homeland

The Tibetan spiritual leader also described as "very serious" reports
that the Chinese had built very good quality roads on their side of the
border that India and China dispute.

"I feel that in the interest of the Chinese government, a solution has
to be found in the current negotiation between Beijing and my government
(in exile)," the Dalai Lama told IANS in an interview here. "But the
demographic aggression is the most serious issue. I think sooner or
later a solution can be found (with the Chinese). On our part, we can
wait... five years, 10 years, 20 years... But the demographic issue as
well as the environment problems cannot wait.

"Once we are able to reach a political solution, it may be too late. If
only Han Chinese inhabit Tibet, what is the meaning of autonomy?

"Like in Inner Mongolia today, it is too late. There is more than 80
percent of Chinese. It is too late."

The Dalai Lama visited Ahmedabad on the occasion of a Tibetan festival
for non-violence jointly organised by eminent dancer Mallika Sarabhai's
Darpana, the Kanoria Centre for Arts and the Alliance Française.

Separately, addressing the faculty and students of the Indian Institute
of Management, the Dalai Lama surprised them by saying that he
considered himself a Marxist monk.

And at a function at the Gujarat Vidyapith, speaking to a large
audience, he said that India and Tibet have a "guru-shishya"
(teacher-student) relationship. For 1,200 years, an Indian, the Buddha,
has been Tibet's guru, he pointed out.

Asked by IANS about reports that India might curtail the activities of
Tibetan refugees, the Dalai Lama said he had no such information.

"Anyway, the Indian government is not only sympathetic towards to us
Tibetans but, because of the border issue, India needs to keep a clear
picture of its past relations with Tibet. I do not think that they will
change their position vis-à-vis Tibet. The same policy will remain."

India is home to some 100,000 Tibetans, many of whom fled their homeland
along with the Dalai Lama in 1959. The Dalai Lama, head of six million
Tibetans, has a government-in-exile that is based in the Indian hill
town of Dharamsala.

The Dalai Lama was questioned about the roads and airfields China is
building just north of the McMahon Line (in southeast Tibet).

"This is serious, very serious," he said. "Someone reliable told me that
the decision to start a railway line between mainland China and Lhasa
was made right after the Sino-Indian war of 1962.

"The reason is that during the conflict, the Chinese military nearly
collapsed because of the length of the logistic lines. That is why they
had to unilaterally declare a ceasefire and withdraw; they faced too
many problems.

"Because of this, Mao gave instructions to start building a railway link
(from China) to Lhasa. But, then, China went through the Cultural
Revolution, then there was shortage of funds and later the (economic)
development started (under Deng Xiaoping).

"Only a few years back, the work could start (it was completed in July
2006). It is very clear that the concept of the railway is born out of
military 'business'."

The Dalai Lama described as "a good thing" China's decision to help
restore the Buddhist Nalanda University in Bihar in India.

"The Chinese Buddhist tradition is similar to the Nalanda tradition. I
also heard that in Xian, the ancient Chinese capital in Shanxi province,
the Chinese Buddhist Society is rebuilding a similar Buddhist
institution. I welcome this.

"I feel that in the long run, the remedy to the internal problems of
China is Buddhist compassion, at least to some extent. Therefore, the
restoration of Nalanda University with the help of the Chinese
government is a good thing."

Asked about the visit of 3.8 million Chinese to Lhasa, the Dalai Lama
called it "a complicated issue".

According to him, many of them remained in Tibet to exploit the natural
resources, causing a demographic aggression.

"The positive side is that many Chinese can now easily visit Tibet, and
the most sensitive among them can get a good picture of what is
happening in Tibet. They can meet Tibetans and encounter the rich
Tibetan civilization and our cultural heritage... That is the positive

Can the next Dalai Lama be a woman?

"In Tibet, the tradition of having reincarnated teachers is almost 700
years old. Among them, there is the institution of a female
reincarnation. But till today, all past reincarnations of the Dalai Lama
have been male.

"In future, in case a female Dalai Lama is more useful to the Buddha
Dharma or to the Tibetan nation, then why not to have a woman as

"Sometimes, I jokingly say that if a Tibetan lady Dalai Lama comes, she
will be very, very attractive. It will be more useful, because every
male will become follower!"

(Claude Arpi can be contacted at e-mail
address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled
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