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Karmapa softens stance on China

March 17, 2009

BBC
March 16, 2009

The Karmapa Lama - Tibetan Buddhism's
third-highest figure - has spoken of his admiration for Chinese culture.

The comment made in an interview with the BBC
Chinese Service suggested a willingness to co-operate with China.

He said he backed the Dalai Lama's policy of
seeking greater autonomy for Tibetans rather than
independence, but blamed Beijing for deadlocked talks.

The 23-year-old exiled monk is tipped as a
possible compromise candidate to succeed the ageing Dalai Lama.

The 17th Karmapa Lama is the only major
monk-reincarnate to be recognised by both Beijing and the Dalai Lama.

China has refused to recognise the boy identified
by the Dalai Lama as the Panchen Lama - the
second most senior figure - detaining him and appointing its own candidate.

Peaceful resolution?

The Karmapa fled Tibet in 2000 to Dharamsala in
India, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.

In a rare interview, the Karmapa told the BBC
that his feelings toward China had warmed since
leaving Tibet, and that he had embraced elements
of Chinese culture - learning to speak Mandarin
fluently and also watching Chinese films.

He said he fully supported the Dalai Lama's
approach to relations with China, but blamed
Beijing for the current stalemate over the political status of Tibet.

At the latest round of stop-start talks with
Beijing last November, China condemned the
Tibetans' proposals as a bid for "disguised independence".

"We can only wait for China to become more open and more democratic.

"The [Dalai Lama's] Middle Way Approach would
then be more important because it advocates not
separation from China but keeping Tibet as part of China."

China accuses the Dalai Lama of plotting to
separate Tibet from the motherland, and of fomenting unrest.

The Karmapa said he hoped that the political
issue of Tibet could be resolved peacefully,
saying it would be in the interests of both Tibet and China.

"If there is a chance [to improve relations], I
will do whatever I can," he added.

The Karmapa said the Tibetan government-in-exile
had become more democratic, and that the
tradition of one Dalai Lama succeeding another need not be followed.

"I just wish there could be more people to take
part in the competition [to become leader]", said the Karmapa.
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