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Censorship at heart of Tibet/China issue: Dalai Lama

February 22, 2010

Reuters
February 20, 2010

The Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of
Tibet, said the United States and other countries
could help his campaign for a free Tibet by promoting an open society in China.

"Censorship ... is the source of the problem,"
the Dalai Lama said in an interview with Reuters on Saturday in Beverly Hills.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed
uprising against Chinese rule. He now lives in
exile in India and advocates "meaningful autonomy" for Tibet within China.

"The Chinese people have no opportunity to know
our issue," said the Buddhist monk, who Beijing
has branded as a dangerous separatist for demanding Tibetan self-determination.

"Once China becomes an open society -- freedom of
speech, freedom of press, freedom of information
-- all this unnecessary fear and doubt will
reduce," he said. "That's the real answer for this problem.

"American can help in this change," he said,
adding that the lack of free information has
helped the Chinese government portray him as a demon and a terrorist.

"Do I look like a demon?" the winner of the 1989
Nobel Peace Prize joked, holding his fingers
beside his head to make devil horns.

The Dalai Lama, who was to speak on on behalf of
Whole Child International, an organization that
works for orphans around the world, said Western
search engines like Google Inc were important to
the free flow of information within China. He
noted they had ceded to pressure from the
Communist government there to limit what users can see.

Google last month threatened to pull out of China
if the government did not agree to stop censoring its Chinese-language service.

The Dalai Lama's visit to the Los Angeles area
came on the heels of his low-key meeting on
Thursday with U.S. President Barack Obama, which upset Beijing.

Obama used his first presidential meeting with
the Dalai Lama to press China to preserve Tibetan
identity and to respect human rights in the
region, which has been under Chinese rule since 1950.

Tibetans living near the Dalai Lama's birthplace
in northwest China celebrated the meeting with a
rare display of fireworks while China, the
second-largest creditor to the United States, condemned the move.

The Dalai Lama was reluctant to predict what impact the meeting would have.

"We will have to wait ... it's very difficult to predict," he said.

The Dalai Lama had no comment on golfer Tiger
Woods' high-profile public apology on Friday. In
the televised statement that riveted Americans
and slowed trade on Wall Street, Woods said he
had strayed from the teachings of Buddhism, a
religion he practiced in his youth, when he
carried on extra-marital affairs with multiple women.

The Dalai Lama said he did not know of Woods and
that his own lack of knowledge about sports of all kinds was "my disgrace."
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