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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."

We are India's first line of defence but Han influx a grave threat: Dalai Lama

January 25, 2008

By Shishir Gupta
Indian Express
Tuesday, January 22, 2008

NEW DELHI, JANUARY 21: The Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of the
Tibetans, today said he was open to the idea of his successor being a
female as the “very purpose of the reincarnation, male or female, is to
carry out the unfinished tasks of the previous life.” The unfinished
task, he later said, was seeking “meaningful autonomy” for the Tibetan
people from the Chinese government.

In an exclusive interview with The Indian Express, the Dalai Lama
sounded a note of caution for New Delhi, saying Tibetans were the “first
line of defence” for India all along the Line of Actual Control (LAC)
but this situation may completely change with the huge influx of Han
Chinese all set to alter Tibet’s demographic profile.

While he has taken note of the UPA government’s recent circular asking
Cabinet Ministers to stay away from the functions he attends, the Dalai
Lama urged New Delhi to take up the case of “meaningful autonomy” with
Beijing as “it is ultimately a matter of safety of the 4,000-km long
border from Arunachal Pradesh to Ladakh.”

On his succession, the Dalai Lama said a “female Dalai Lama can be very
effective” in serving the Buddhist religion and there have been
instances of female lamas in the last seven hundred years of Tibetan
history. Making clear that his successor, boy or girl, would be chosen
from outside Tibet, he appeared amenable to the idea of choosing his
successor “before his death” as per Tibetan tradition.

“Way back on March 10, 1969, I had said that it was time for the Tibetan
people to decide whether to continue with the institution of Dalai
Lama... In 1992, I was willing to hand over legal authority for certain
degrees of freedom in Tibet... Since 2001, I am in a semi-retirement
position with all political authority now vested in the
government-in-exile... I am now looking forward to complete retirement,”
the Dalai Lama said.

He said it was for the Tibetan people to decide on the method for his
succession. This included the following: Like the Pope is appointed by
the cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church on the principles of
seniority or a reincarnation being recognised before his death or the
traditional manner.

But given the earlier controversy over the succession of the Panchen
Lama and Beijing’s recent diktat that makes it mandatory for all
reincarnate lamas to be officially recognised by the Chinese government,
the Dalai Lama fears Beijing will complicate his succession. “Just like
the Panchen Lama succession, the Chinese will also choose an official
Dalai Lama... so there will be two Dalai Lamas, one chosen and other
official... similar to two Panchen Lamas... But the real Dalai Lama will
have a Tibetan heart and my people will not accept the official Dalai
Lama,” he said.

Responding to a question that Beijing always believes Tibet was part of
China, the Dalai Lama said there was need for legal experts and
historians to study the relationship between the Chinese emperor and the
Tibetan religious leadership in the past before coming to such a conclusion.

“The Chinese first called the cultural revolution a great achievement..
then said there was some achievement and some destruction and now
finally admit that there was total destruction during that period... You
cannot change history on the basis of political necessity... the Chinese
create certain positions, no matter whether they are based on reality or
not,” he said.

Giving details of his government’s dialogue with the Chinese government,
the Dalai Lama said Beijing’s position had hardened in the last round,
the sixth, in which they made it clear there was “no Tibet issue” and
the “only issue was Dalai Lama.”

He said except for a brief period of hope in the late 1970s when Hua
Guofeng was at the helm of affairs in Beijing, the Chinese position over
Tibetan autonomy had hardened during the six rounds of dialogue. “In the
3rd meeting, the Chinese gave some 30 points against us, which we
responded to in the next round... in the 5th round (February 2006), they
accused the Dalai Lama of seeking independence for Tibet... this was
followed by my intensive criticism and suppression in Tibet... and in
the last round, nothing was discussed,” the Dalai Lama said.

While he maintains that the Tibetan spirit for freedom will remain
indomitable, he fears that time is running out for a just resolution of
the Tibetan issue with the huge influx of the Han Chinese from the
mainland with official support.

According to him, the Han Chinese make 200,000 out of Lhasa’s total
population of 300,000 and the figures are constantly rising. “If Tibet
becomes a land of Han Chinese, then even autonomy will be meaningless,”
the Dalai Lama said.
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