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"For a happier, more stable and civilized future, each of us must develop a sincere, warm-hearted feeling of brotherhood and sisterhood."

Dalai Lama tells AP: Exiles must press China talks

May 12, 2010

The Associated Press

Tuesday, May 11, 2010 | 12:24 a.m.

Years of negotiations with Beijing have achieved little for the Tibetan
people, the Dalai Lama said Friday, though he insisted that talks still
needed to press ahead and that the Chinese leadership could _ eventually
_ soften its stand on Tibet.

In an hour-long interview with The Associated Press, the Buddhist leader
criticized Beijing for its policies in his Himalayan homeland while he
held out the possibility that some type of accord could be reached.

"So far, dialogue failed, but that does not mean in future no
possibility," the Dalai Lama said in his private compound in this Indian
hill town where he has lived since fleeing Tibet more than five decades
ago. While admitting he was deeply frustrated by the lack of progress
during nine rounds of talks, he also said there were clear signs of
progress in Beijing. "They are realistic," he said of the Chinese
leadership. "They have the ability to act according to a new reality."

Among his reasons for hope: increasing sympathy for the Tibetan cause
among Chinese intellectuals, the power of technology to bring news out
of Tibet and vague signs from Beijing that some Chinese leaders might be
ready to soften their stand on Tibet.

Some of the Beijing leadership believes that "policy regarding Tibet now
should be more openly, more peacefully. I heard that," he said in his
sometimes tangled English. "True or not? We'll have to wait."

And patience, he added, is something Tibetans understand.

It has been 51 years since he fled his homeland. "Another 10, 20 years
we can wait," he said, breaking into laughter.

Talks between China and the Dalai Lama's envoys resumed in January for
the first time in 15 months but made no apparent progress on the
Tibetans' demands for more autonomy. Beijing refused to even talk about
granting Tibet more latitude, limiting discussions to the future of the
exiled spiritual leader.

As to his future, the 74-year-old Dalai Lama said some Chinese leaders
were simply waiting for him to die, hoping the Tibet issue would fizzle
once he is gone. In Tibetan Buddhism, each Dalai Lama is believed to be
the reincarnation of his predecessor. Because of this, turmoil often
surrounds the death of a Dalai Lama as religious elders look for
mystical signs that point them to the next reincarnation.

The man demonized by Beijing, though, insists he is nowhere near death.

"Unfortunately, the demon _ demon Dalai Lama _ looks very healthy," he
said, laughing loudly at his joke.

And, he noted, his death may make the situation worse for China, as
angry young Tibetans _ no longer held back by his steadfast demands for
nonviolence _ could take to the streets.

It is a possibility he fears deeply.

"If some kind of violence takes place, then the Tibetan will
automatically be the victim," he said.

There was no immediate comment from Beijing, but Chinese officials have
long accused the Dalai Lama of being a "splittist" intent on sowing
trouble within Tibet. While the Dalai Lama insists he only wants some
form of Tibetan autonomy, Chinese officials say he is secretly
advocating for complete independence.

"The people understand more that splittism brings misfortune and ethnic
unity brings happiness," Hao Peng, the Chinese vice governor of Tibet,
told journalists visiting the region in March, during a tightly
controlled visit.

Beijing, of course, doesn't need to be as diplomatic as the Dalai Lama.

While the Dalai Lama wields enormous spiritual influence across Tibet,
where he is seen as both a living god and the Tibetan king, Beijing has
near-absolute control of the region. China has thousands of soldiers
stationed there, manages a vast intelligence network and is flooding
Tibet with ethnic Han Chinese.

Since 2008, when demonstrations flared into riots in Tibetan communities
across western China, Beijing has imposed smothering security on many
Tibetan areas as it mixes government threats of further crackdowns with
economic incentives to gain support.

The Dalai Lama fled his homeland in 1959, nine years after Communist
troops marched into the Himalayan region. Beijing claims Tibet has been
a Chinese territory for centuries, but many Tibetans say they were
effectively independent for most of that time and that migration to the
region and restrictions on Buddhism are threatening their culture.

Beijing denies all such accusations and Chinese President Hu Jintao has
publicly made the creation of a "harmonious society" one of his top
goals, trying to bridge the vast ethnic and economic divisions across
the country.

The Dalai Lama scoffed at that.

"So far, in order to develop harmony, the main method is suppression!"
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