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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

Taiwan monk urges China to befriend Dalai Lama

May 5, 2008

By Benjamin Kang Lim

BEIJING, Saturday, May 03, 2008 (Reuters) - One of Taiwan's most
influential Buddhist monks urged China on Friday to turn Tibet's exiled
spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, "from an enemy into a friend" in the
wake of unrest in the Himalayan region.

Tibet has become a flashpoint since March for anti-China protests that
have disrupted the international leg of the Olympic torch relay and led
to calls for national leaders to boycott the Beijing Games, which open
on August 8.

The Dalai Lama's envoys are due to fly to China from India on Saturday
to meet their Chinese counterparts over the crisis in Tibet, the
government-in-exile said, days after Beijing bowed to international
pressure and agreed to fence-mending talks.

"It's a very good thing the Dalai Lama's envoys can come. It's also a
very good thing China is willing to accept (them)," Master Hsing Yun
told Reuters during a visit to China.

Hsing Yun, abbot of Buddha Light Mountain temple in Taiwan's southern
port city of Kaohsiung, said China would be better off befriending the
Dalai Lama, who has beenw demonized by Tibet's hardline Communist Party
boss and state media.

"The Dalai Lama is Tibet's spiritual leader. Politically, (China) should
turn (him) from an enemy into a friend," Hsing Yun said in an interview.

Hsing Yun said he did not understand recent events in Tibet but called
for "mutual respect and tolerance" between China and the Dalai Lama, who
fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against
Chinese rule.

Asked what he thought of the Dalai Lama, Hsing Yun said they have met
several times and he found the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate to be
"optimistic, bright and cheerful, always wearing a smile and easy to get
along with".

Hsing Yun urged China to take the Dalai Lama seriously, saying the
Tibetan god-king is "very sincere" when he says he wants autonomy, not
independence, for his homeland, albeit China does not believe him.

The Dalai Lama cannot unilaterally decide Tibet's fate, Hsing Yun said.
The Tibet Youth Congress, the radical wing of the Tibetan community in
exile, has challenged the Dalai Lama's "middle way" policy of non-violence.

China has blamed the Dalai Lama and his supporters for the rioting,
which it says has killed about 20 "innocent" civilians. The Dalai Lama
denies the accusation.

The government-in-exile says 140 people have been killed and thousands
arrested in an ensuing government crackdown.

Hsing Yun's comments were unlikely to rile China, which has sought to
win the hearts and minds of Taiwanese in a policy change since 2005,
analysts said.

(Editing by Giles Elgood)
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