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"I believe that to meet the challenges of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility. It is the foundation for world peace."

Dalai Lama lives in hope but China holds high ground

January 31, 2010

Winnipeg Free Press
January 30, 2010

YOU can't fault the Dalai Lama for optimism. I
suppose that might come from being the Buddha
born-again, the most recent in a long list of
reincarnations that makes him the spiritual
leader of the Tibetan people, an inspiration of
piety and pacifism to people around the world, as
well as a huge hit among Hollywood actors -- only
Scientology, it seems, appeals to more of these
keen intellects than Tibetan Buddhism.

Wherever his hopefulness comes from, it certainly
does not come from being the temporal ruler of
Tibet, which, in the minds of most Tibetans, he
legitimately is. China's Communist rulers
emphatically disagree, however. They claim Tibet
as an integral part of China and made their point
by invading it in 1950. Since then they have
undertaken a thorough campaign of physical
slaughter and cultural genocide, including driving the Dalai Lama into exile.

Relations have been a little tense ever since.
Nevertheless, the Tibetan religious leader has
never given up hope of a rapprochement that would
see him return to an autonomous Tibet under China's sovereignty.

Every time, however, the Dalai Lama raises the
issue, and he does it frequently, Beijing hammers
it -- kind of like diplomatic whack-a-mole.
Nevertheless, this week two Tibetan monks arrived
in Beijing, sent by their leader to see if the
Chinese might agree to open talks. China received
them, but also set the Dalai Lama up for the inevitable disappointment.

But prospects are poor for any real dialogue: "We
hope the Dalai Lama will cherish the opportunity
and make a positive response to (our) requests,"
the Beijing government said imperially.

The language --"cherish?" -- recalls an incident
from the 19th century when the emperor of China,
wandering the Forbidden Palace one day, had the
inspiration to set straight the queen of England.
He was, after all, the celestial emperor and all
other monarchs under heaven were his vassals.

So he sent an envoy to England with a note to
Queen Victoria: "Tremble! Furiously tremble!" it
began and went on to invite Britain to submit to him.

Victoria was not amused. The envoy was sent
packing and the luckless emperor continued his
unhappy education in the realpolitik of the world beyond the celestial empire.

Unfortunately, despite the Dalai Lama's optimism,
China seems certain to win this battle of the
purple prose. China is no longer luckless.
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