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Dalai Lama pilgrimage to China could be a major breakthrough on Tibet issue

March 2, 2015

My Republica, February 24, 2015 - An expert on the Tibetan issue in the Chinese government has said that a possible pilgrimage to China by Tibetan leader in exile the Dalai Lama could be a major breakthrough on the Tibet issue.

Hu Shisheng, director at the Institute of South and Southeast Asian and Oceania Studies of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), hinted that informal talks with Dalai Lama are taking place but said that ‘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 Shisheng is considered to be an influential expert on Tibet issues. As it is said that a representative from Beijing has been holding informal talks with Dalai Lama and the religious leader has expressed his desire to go on a pilgrimage to Mount Wutai, a mountain in Shanxi province, Hu said that such visit would be a historic event.

“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,” Hu told Republica. “There are a lot of differences between the central government and the Dalai Lama, and attempts at agreement have not been much fruitful,” he added.

The 14th Dalai Lama has been living in Dharamshala, India after he left Tibet in 1959 as China took control of Tibet in 1959. The Dalai Lama, who was born on July 6, 1935, will turn 80 this year while China will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of ‘Tibet Autonomous Region’.

Hu admitted that the Chinese government and the Dalai Lama have differences over ‘Panchen Lama, greater Tibet and diplomatic relations of Dalai Lama, Free Tibet issue with international communities and the history of Tibet’.

“The visit would be possible only after historic breakthrough or through mutual understanding,” said Hu. “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,” he added.

It is said that the Dalai Lama has been attempting to improve his relations with Beijing as he is aging and Western support for him is limited. He had said a few months ago at Dharmashala that he was in informal talks with China about the pilgrimage.

Despite handing over political rights to Lobsang Sangay, the Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile, four years ago, Dalai Lama is still considered the supreme leader in Dharmashala.

Dalai Lama was a close friend of former Chinese Vice-Premier Xi Zhongxun, father of current Chinese President Xi Jinping, and the leader in exile is hopeful that the Tibet issue would be settled within his lifetime.

Dalai Lama had traveled to southern part of India via Delhi when Chinese president was in his official visit to Delhi last year. Dalai Lama had praised Xi in Delhi then saying ‘Xi Jinping is very open-minded and his thoughts are practical’.

Representatives of China and Dalai Lama had sat for nine rounds of talks between 2002 and 2010.
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