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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

INTERVIEW: People of Taiwan still in thoughts of the Dalai Lama

June 18, 2008

The Taipei Times
June 16, 2008

PRAISE INDEED: The Tibetan spiritual head said that, despite
obstacles, he was keen to visit Taiwan again and lauded the nation's
development and democracy

 From politics to the Olympics, human rights to life during
half-a-century of exile, the Dalai Lama shared his views on a variety
of topics during an interview with the Taipei Times at his residence
in Dharamsala, India, on the morning of June 6.

Without much formality and after only a brief greeting, the Dalai
Lama began the conversation by praising Taiwan's democratic achievements.

"The second transfer of power has just taken place in Taiwan ... I
think this shows that Taiwan is a true democracy," he said in
Tibetan. "Many people say that democracy is not suitable for Asian
countries -- but Taiwan's case just proved otherwise."

The Dalai Lama also expressed his admiration for Taiwan's cultural diversity.

"It's a good thing that Taiwan has been able to preserve elements of
Chinese culture that has been passed down for thousands of years --
most of them have already been lost in China," he said.

"In addition to that, Taiwan has achieved outstanding economic
development, pursued modern culture and democracy -- it has really
set a example for many in the world to follow," the Dalai Lama said.

Recalling his two visits to Taiwan, first in 1997 and then in 2001,
the Dalai Lama, switching to English, said: "I've got happy memories
from my first visit to Taiwan. Taiwanese people -- the public in
general and Taiwanese Buddhists -- all expressed warm feelings to me."

"I remember one occasion when I was in Kaohsiung giving some
teachings and talks, and it started to rain suddenly," he said, "but
people remained there in the rain."

This enthusiasm was impressive, the Tibetan spiritual leader said.

"So since then, I was determined that every two years I want to go to
Taiwan," he said.

Unfortunately, political pressure from China has blocked him from
fulfilling his wish.

"In 2002, we developed direct contacts with the Chinese government,
hoping that there would be some concrete understandings [between
China and Tibet]," he said. "They are very, very against my visiting Taiwan."

Although the Dalai Lama assured China that any trip to Taiwan would
only be concerned with Buddhism and the promotion of human values and
harmony, Beijing still objects, he said.

"I told them that they can send an official with me when I'm in
Taiwan, so they can check whom I meet with, what I talk about or
whether there's a secret conspiracy,' he said, but the suggestion has
yet to be accepted.

"The Chinese government in Beijing is very concerned about my
visiting Taiwan. So after two visits, I cannot go there [anymore],
and I would like to apologize to you," he said while bowing his head.
"But Taiwanese brothers and sisters " I never forget [about you], and
I'm waiting for another opportunity to go there."

He also expressed gratitude to all the Taiwanese who offered their
support and help to Tibetan communities after unrest in March
following gatherings in Tibet to commemorate the March 10, 1959,
uprising against Chinese rule.

Demonstrations were answered by a violent crackdown by Chinese
authorities which in turn, triggered more demonstrations and protests
by Tibetans in Tibetan communities inside and outside Tibet as well
as pro-Tibetan sympathizers.

"I always consider our supporters not pro-Tibet or anti-Chinese,
rather, they're pro-justice," he said.

It's unfortunate that many Chinese people have the impression that he
is anti-China, he said.

"Since the [March] crisis, I've visited America and Europe, and
wherever I go, there would be demonstrations [against me] from local
Chinese communities," he said.

However, he said that deep in his heart, he not only has respect for
Chinese people and culture, he also considers the Chinese older
brothers in terms of following the teachings of the Buddha.

"Whenever I give teaching to Chinese Buddhists, I always at the
beginning [give] my salutation to Chinese Buddhists, because,
historically, [they] are the elder and senior students of the Buddha
while we're the younger and junior students," he said. "So, it's our
tradition and moral responsibility to elder students."

He also showed his wit.

"As far as Buddhist knowledge is concerned, junior students sometimes
may be a little better," he said, laughing.

He went on to reaffirm his support for the Beijing Olympics.

He said that even before Beijing was selected as the Olympic host
city, "I said that the People's Republic of China -- as the most
populous and an ancient country -- they deserve to host the Olympics."

"After the 10 March [incident] my [opinion] has not changed," he said.

However, the Tibetan leader is critical of China's manipulation of
the media and its human rights violations.

"The Beijing government says [the] crisis in Tibet [came] from here
-- it's the Dalai Lama's creation, and made me a big troublemaker,"
he said. "We welcome any Chinese official to come to Dharamsala to
investigate all our records, the files in our [exiled government]
departments and my personal talks with Tibetans, which are all
recorded. So let them check whether I was behind the crisis or not."

The Dalai Lama went on to say that on one occasion, when a reporter
from Xinhua news agency asked him about China's accusation that he
was behind the Lhasa incidents and opposed to the Olympics: "I [gave]
my explanation, but told the reporter 'I don't know if you can really
print it [in] your newspaper or not.'"

"This is the problem," he said, "the Chinese media -- all under some
sort of influence from the government -- can only print things that
suit [the government's] policies and cannot publish things that don't
suit their policies.:

The Dalai Lama said he was not personally upset when the Chinese
government called him a demon and a wolf in a monk's robes, but it
made him feel sad because "the denouncement from the news media, from
the government; the millions of innocent Chinese people in Mainland
China -- who have no other source of information, [but] the
government propaganda -- see the Dalai Lama as a mogui [demon]."

What's even worse is that Tibetans in Tibet are being forced to
denounce him, he said.

"They call me a wolf in a monk's robe -- if they feel happy with that
kind of denouncement, it's okay, no problem," he said.

"But forcing Tibetans to denounce the Dalai Lama and putting those
who refuse to do so in prison -- it's violation of human rights and
of freedom of religion, that's really bad," he said.

Asked if Tibetans in exile are happy after living outside of their
homeland for almost half a century, the Dalai Lama gave a positive answer.

"I think Tibetan people outside Tibet are generally quite happy, he said.

He talked about better educational opportunities for exiles, adding
that freedom was the main reason behind their happiness.

However, "emotionally, we're concerned about our own land, when [a]
crisis happens there, people get very emotional," he said.

As for himself, the Dalai Lama said he always tells people that he
has been "homeless" for half a century.

"But the homeless one has found many new homes around the world," he
said, with a big smile on his face.

"If I'd remained in the Potala, I don't think I [would] have had the
opportunity to meet so many people - especially Taiwanese people like
[former presidents] Lee Tung-hui [???] and Chen Shui-bian [???], [US]
President [George W. Bush] and his father, the Pope and many
scientists and economists."

The Dalai Lama said that, while it is a misfortune to live in exile,
he always thinks positively and appreciates the opportunities that
came to him because of his "homelessness."

"In thinking this way, I've got my peace of mind," he said.
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