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Dalai Lama launches L.A. visit

February 22, 2010

Tibet's exiled leader is traveling and speaking
in support of Whole Child International,
including a public address scheduled for Sunday at Gibson Amphitheatre.
Mitchell Landsberg,
Los Angeles Times
February 20, 2010

After pressing the case for Tibetan autonomy with
President Obama in Washington, the Dalai Lama
said Saturday that he is encouraged by what he
sees as rising support for the Tibetan cause
among Chinese intellectuals, although he said the
Chinese government remains "hardened" against him.

The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism arrived
in Los Angeles on Friday and planned to spend the
weekend here in support of Whole Child
International, a nonprofit organization that
works on behalf of orphaned and abandoned
children. In an interview with The Times, he
acknowledged that there had been no progress in
the latest round of talks with China over his
call for greater autonomy in Tibet.

Still, he said he found some reasons to cling to
hope that the standoff could ease. "The number of
Chinese intellectuals and writers [coming] out,
they openly support our middle way approach and
[are] very critical of their own government
policy," he said, speaking in English.

He said Chinese intellectuals had become more
sympathetic to Tibet as a result of pro-autonomy
demonstrations in 2008 that prompted a swift,
violent response from Chinese authorities. Since
then, he said, he has met many Chinese who say
they were unaware of the Tibetan issue until the
demonstrations. Now, he said, they find his call
for a self-governing Tibet that remains a part of
China to be "very sensible, very logical."

He said Chinese writers had published 800
articles in support of Tibetan autonomy, 300 of
them published in China itself. Those figures
could not be independently verified.

The 14th Dalai Lama was the administrative and
spiritual leader of Tibet before going into exile
in India in 1959 when China cemented control over
the Himalayan region. China has claimed not only
political authority in Tibet, which it considers
to be an autonomous province, but also control
over the leadership of Tibetan Buddhism. The
Dalai Lama presides over a government in exile in India.

Sitting cross-legged and barefoot in the
presidential suite of a Beverly Hills hotel, the
Dalai Lama briefly discussed his Thursday meeting
with Obama. He downplayed his goals for the
meeting and said he had met with the president
because "it was my duty to inform or report what
the situation was in the relationship with the Chinese government."

Asked if he saw any progress there, he said, "No
progress. . . . Always the Chinese authorities
[are] very hardened. Not only [against] Tibetans,
but also . . . toward their own people."

His L.A. visit included a luncheon speech
Saturday and a public address scheduled for
Sunday at Gibson Amphitheatre, where he will be joined by musician Sheryl Crow.
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