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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Tweets with the Chinese People

August 5, 2010

Central Tibetan Administration
August 4, 2010

1558 Chinese people submitted 317 questions to
His Holiness the Dalai Lama through the renowned
Chinese writer, Wang Lixiong. 11705 Chinese
netizens voted for the following 10 most
important questions, to which Holiness the Dalai
Lama responded from his residence in Dharamsala on 16 July 2010.

The responses were released on the
Chinese-language website of the Office of His
Holiness the Dalai Lama on 19 July 2010.
Question One: Looking at the current situation,
it seems difficult that a reconciliation with the
Chinese government will come about in your
lifetime. After your passing away, you will have
no control over the Tibetan youth organisation
which holds on firmly to their ideology [of
seeking Tibetan independence]. Is it not possible
that they will engage in large-scale terrorist
activities then? Are there ways by which they can
be prevented from taking such a course?

Answer:  On the whole, I believe that even after
my death the Tibetan exile set-up will continue
to make progress, particularly in the field of
education. More importantly there are a growing
number of young Lamas between the ages of 20 and
30 who are currently pursuing studies in the
various religious schools of our community who
are capable of taking up greater leadership roles
in the spiritual field. In the political field,
for the last more than 10 years I have been in a
state of semi-retirement. All the important
political decisions are being taken by the
elected political leadership and this will
continue to do so in the future as well. There
are forces within our community such as the
Tibetan Youth Congress who criticise our
Middle-Way policy and demand complete
independence [for Tibet]. It seems their voices
are growing stronger [these days]. We cannot
blame them for this, since our successive efforts
to bring about a mutually-beneficial solution [to
the issue of Tibet] have failed to produce any
positive results and under such a situation,
their viewpoint is gaining momentum [in our
society]. However, it is very evident that 99% of
the Tibetan people have complete faith in the
non-violent path [that we have chosen] and so you
should not worry [about their ever resorting to violence].

Question Two: Your Holiness, how do you plan to
resolve the problem of those areas which form a
part of your notion of 'Greater Tibet' but are
incorporated into the Chinese provinces as far as
the current administrative divisions of these
provinces are concerned? Will the autonomous
government of your 'Greater Tibet' exercise
control over the other ethnic groups living
within those areas? If so, how would you
safeguard the aspirations of these ethnic groups?

Answer: We have not used the term 'Greater
Tibet.' It is [actually] a term employed by the
United Front Work Department of the Chinese
government [to refer to our demand]. What we say
is that all those Tibetans who speak and write
the same language of Tibet should have equal
right to preserve and promote their religion and
culture as well as to work for their collective
economic development. Now this is, in principle,
agreed upon by the Chinese government. In the
Fifth Work Forum on Tibet, the Chinese central
government has recommended a uniform policy for
overseeing all Tibetans living in the Tibet
Autonomous Region and in other Tibetan autonomous
areas under the four Chinese provinces. Premier
Wen Jiabao has, particularly, mentioned this in
his work report to the National People's
Congress. This, I believe, is really in keeping
with the actual prevailing situation. Otherwise,
when the word "Xizang" is mentioned, it is taken
to be as referring only to the Tibet Autonomous
Region. This is not right. There are only a
little over two million Tibetans living in the
Tibet Autonomous Region and the remaining
approximately four million Tibetans live in the
neighbouring four Chinese provinces. As such, we
are saying that all of these Tibetan people
should be given the same rights. For example, I
do not belong to the Tibet Autonomous Region; I
hail from Tso-ngon [Ch: Qinghai] province.
Likewise should you care to look at Tibetan
history, you will see that many of the
highly-realised Lamas/Tulkus have come from these
four provinces. Even today, most of the
[respected] teachers teaching in the monastic
institutions of all the religious traditions of
our community have come from these provinces;
very few of them belong to the Tibet Autonomous
Region. Therefore, we are saying that a uniform
policy should be adopted for all of these areas
since they share the same religion and culture.

It is altogether a different matter if we are
seeking separation or independence but we are
not. We are simply saying that we be granted the
freedom to preserve our own religion, culture and
language within the larger framework of the
People's Republic of China. If, in due course of
time, we get an opportunity to discuss about it
in detail, then the Tibetans inside Tibet should
take the main responsibility. Once they are able
to engage in extensive discussions [with the
Chinese government] without any fear in their
minds, I do not think we will face any problems
[in resolving the issue of Tibet].

In the case of the Tibet Autonomous Region, a few
Chinese lived there prior to the 1950s. [The
number grew later.] A considerable number of
Chinese, however, have been living in Kham and
Amdo regions, particularly in the area of my
birth [Xining], since early times. Tibetans are
not saying, and will never say, that Tibet should
be occupied by exclusively Tibetans to the
exclusion of all other nationalities, which
includes [even] the Han Chinese. What is
important is that since it carries the name
'Tibetan Autonomous Region' or 'Tibetan
Autonomous Areas', the natives of these very
places should constitute the majority and the
rest of the nationalities the minority of the
total population. It is for this very purpose
that the name has been given. If, otherwise, the
number of Chinese or other minority nationalities
living in these places is more than the Tibetans,
then there is no way such names as mentioned
above could be given. We are hoping that we are
able to establish a big family of friendship
between the Chinese and Tibetan peoples based on
over thousand years of relations with each other.
We also hope and even pray that the People's
Republic of China flourishes with all its
nationalities enjoying equality in a spirit of one big family.

Question Three: Last year, a television channel
in France broadcast a documentary titled The
Dalai Lama's Demons, in which Shugden-worshipping
Tibetan monks were shown to be thrown out of the
Tibetan settlements in India. The situation has
come to such a pass for these monks that they
could not even visit shops and hospitals as well
as enter their monasteries at the time. In the
documentary, you were also shown to be issuing a
strict order that these Shugden-propitiating
monks must be expelled from their monasteries.
Moreover, one of the monks interviewed said: 'On
the one hand the Dalai Lama talks about the
freedom of religious belief and compassion, but
on the other hand he restricts our religious
freedom and shows us out of our monasteries.'
What do you have to say about it?

Answer: Gyalpo Shugden came into existence during
the time of the Great Fifth Dalai Lama. The Fifth
Dalai Lama saw Dorjee Shugden as 'a vow-breaking
demon/evil spirit born into such a state as a
result of his wrong aspiration/negative prayer".
This is mentioned in the Collected Works of the
Great Fifth, Volume K,  an earlier edition
block-printed in Tibet. So 'wrong
aspiration/negative prayer' is what caused Dorjee
Shugden whose nature is but a 'vow-breaking
demon/evil spirit' and whose actions are to 'harm
the Dharma and humanity'. This is admitted by the
Dolgyal himself in his autobiography.

Earlier I too propitiated Shugden. Later on as I
studied the words of the Great Fifth, I came
across the document cited above. I have, from my
side also, conducted a series of investigations
about it and found that it is not good to worship
the spirit. Consequently I gave up the
propitiation completely but did not, at that
point of time, place any restrictions on the
section of the Tibetan community who were
practising it. Then the problem surfaced at the
Jangtse College of the Gaden Monastery. Through
my examinations, it became very clear to me that
the problem at the Jangtse College was caused by
its new initiative of propitiating Gyalpo
Shugden. I communicated this to the concerned.
When the issue became more public later on, some
people began to spread the rumour that I was
trying to curry favour with the Nyingma Tradition
[of Tibetan Buddhism] and that I had not actually
imposed any restrictions but simply pretended to
do so. Under these circumstances, I had to come
out in the open to express my strong objections
to, and make things clear about, the worshipping of this evil spirit.

No children of the Dolgyal followers have been
expelled from the schools. If in the monasteries
the worshippers and non-worshippers of Dolgyal
assemble together, it does not go very well with
the sanctity of the spiritual bond [that is so
very essential in matters of spirituality]. Those
who do not worship Dolgyal have all received
spiritual teachings from me and those who worship
it are the ones who have some problem or
disagreement with the Lama from whom they receive
teachings. Therefore we are saying that we feel
very uncomfortable to be associated with the
Dolgyal followers. Apart from that, we have done
nothing to throw them out of the Tibetan
settlements. I urge all of you to come to India
and visit the Tibetan settlements in South India
to see for yourselves what the reality is. The
Dolgyal followers have established their own
separate monastery there and lead their lives
like any other Tibetan. Nobody is creating problems for them.

In short, what I am saying is that it is one's
freedom, in general, to practise or not to
practise any religion. How one chooses to
practise one's religion is also one's freedom.
Therefore, whichever deity or demon one may
worship, one may decide as one pleases. To say
that the practice of the spirit in question is
disadvantageous and it has no advantages
whatsoever is my duty. Therefore, I have
highlighted the negatives. Now it is up to the
people to think over or decide for themselves
whether they want to listen or not. A Chinese
friend has raised this question. If you are
interested in the subject, it is [really] your
freedom [to worship or not to worship the
spirit]. But you must carry out a proper
investigation [before plunging into it]. Usually,
our religious practitioners say that 'one must
develop a pure perception of one's teacher and
investigate [thoroughly] the religion one
practises'. So religion must be subjected to
investigation. For instance, Nagarjuna and other
scholars [of the ancient Nalanda University] have
shown through their example that even if they
were the words of the Lord Buddha, they must be
subjected to investigation for ascertaining their
truthfulness. [The Buddhist concept of 'Four
Reliances' says, among other things, that] one
must 'rely on the doctrine than on individuals'.
So it is very important for all of you to investigate.

Question Four: During the 2008 Tibet incident,
why did many monks and lay Tibetans raise their
hands against the ordinary Chinese citizens? We
must understand that it is the Chinese government
which you are against [and not the ordinary Chinese citizens].

Answer: As far as I know, the first protest of
2008 in Tibet occurred in the afternoon of 10
March. This was then followed by more protest
demonstrations on 11, 12 and 13 March of that
year. The Chinese security people, from the very
beginning, learned about these demonstrations as
a result of which they blocked the road of the
monk protestors arriving from Drepung Monastery.
On the morning of 14 March, the incident of
setting shops on fire, hurling stones and
destroying properties occurred. One foreign
journalist, who had been an eye-witness to this
incident, came to meet me [at Dharamsala] and
told me: 'Apart from video-taping the entire
happening, the Chinese security personnel at the
scene did nothing to stop them.' The Chinese
government's propaganda about the 3-14 incident
disregards the fact that the first protest broke
out on 10 March. Moreover, according to reports
they deliberately hired some mischievous people
on the morning of 14 March to indulge in rioting,
which they video-shot for later use in shifting
the blame of the entire incident on the Tibetans.
Tibetans arriving from Tibet after the March
incident informed us that ‘Tibetans’ whom they
had never seen earlier had been brought to Lhasa
at that time. They further said that 'these
people were the main culprits who created the
disturbances'. [I believe] this [unfortunate]
incident should actually be investigated
independently. This is one thing I want to say.

[Another thing I want to say is that] in the
monasteries of the Kham and Amdo regions, there
is an ancient custom of keeping old swords,
spears and rifles in the shrines of the guardian
deities. I was informed that these weapons were
forcefully taken out in order to blame the
monasteries for using weapons to stir violence
[in the country]. It is, in a way, very probable
that a few people in their fits of anger may have
unwittingly caused some inconveniences to the
Chinese people [during that time]. If such a
thing really happened, then I stand ready to
apologise [on their behalf]. It is very likely
indeed that some enraged Tibetans may have caused
such a situation because at that time, the
Chinese government tried [its level best] to
create the false impression of the Tibetans as
being anti-Chinese. Majority of the Tibetans would never do such a thing.

Tibetans cannot be blamed for airing their
grievances against the Chinese government
policies. The Chinese government strikes hard
upon the Tibetan people for the [only] reason
that they are loyal to their religion and culture
as well as their spiritual leader. This creates a
feeling of hurt in the minds of the Tibetan
people. This is also the reason why Tibetans are
strongly critical of the Chinese government
policies. You should not, however, take this as a
form of Tibetan people's animosity to the Chinese
people. If what I have heard is indeed true, then
Tibetans visiting the Chinese cities and towns
seem to be facing a lot of problems after the
2008 March incident. This is because the Chinese
hoteliers, shopkeepers and restaurateurs in these
places show a cold attitude to the Tibetan
customers. Moreover, we have heard that a lone
Tibetan member of a Chinese government delegation
was stopped at the airport for interrogation. All
these developments are a cause of disappointment for the Tibetan people.

Question Five: Was the ‘liberation of Tibet’ a
deception from the beginning or did it change later?

Answer: It is difficult to say. When the People’s
Liberation Army arrived in Chamdo, they fought
with the Tibetan army and killed about seven to
eight thousand Tibetan soldiers. Khenchung
Thupten Dhonyoe, who was a staff of the Governor
General of Eastern Tibet at that time, told me
that Wang Qiming, the PLA general (who
‘liberated’ Chamdo) said to him with tears in his
eyes: 'We, fraternal nationalities, have killed
each other.' I feel that some of them may have
been genuine. Likewise, when the road from Kham
to Central Tibet and Amdo to Central Tibet were
being built, some people used their bodies to
block water when floods took place. They worked
hard. Those things, I feel, were genuine. For
others I cannot say what their intentions were
from the beginning. The best thing would be for
historians to thoroughly study classified
government documents, which will make things
clear. That is the most important thing.

In terms of overall policies, in 1954, I went to
China and spent about five to six months in
Beijing. At that time I met most of the Chinese
leaders, including Mao Zedong, who I had met many
times. I especially went to visit many Chinese
provinces, during which I met many Chinese
leaders, who were members of the Communist Party
and had real revolutionary outlook and were
genuinely working to serve the working class and
the country. I saw many who had no desire for
personal gain and were working for the common
good. They impressed me. Mao, for instance, made
many promises to me. However, from 1956-57
onwards, I felt that things were moving towards ultra-leftism.

Question Six: If in the future China will have a
genuine democratic system, what would Tibet’s
relations be with that government? What is your opinion?

Answer: Right now many of the unwanted problems,
whether it is PRC’s external relations or issues
within the country, I think, are created by
suspicion and lack of mutual trust. For the last
51 years, I have lived outside Tibet. From my
many friends in the US, Europe, Japan and in
India, I know that China has the desire to build
good relations. But its failure to build genuine
relationships is due to the lack of mutual trust.
This, in turn, is the result of lack of
transparency in China which, though, it outwardly
pretends to have so. Hence many problems arise.
Whether it is the issue of Tibet or Xinjiang,
there is clearly a huge difference between the
external impression that China gives and the real
feelings that the people in these regions
harbour. Therefore, once a time comes when China
will have transparent, honest and just policies,
many of the problems will naturally be solved.

Regarding the Tibetan issue, if there is
transparency and sincerity on the part of the
Chinese government, we on our part are not
seeking separation. We have a long history, but I
am not thinking about it. If we think about the
future, materially Tibet is behind others and
therefore if we stay within the PRC, it will be
beneficial for Tibet's development. Because of
this we are not seeking separation. The most
important thing is that Tibet has a unique
culture, language and religion. Amongst the
Buddhist traditions, many of the world’s scholars
today say that Tibetan Buddhism is the most
extensive and profound. Tibetan language has
become the best medium to articulate/express this
profound and extensive philosophy. The
translations – both in terms of literal
translation (dra gyur) and contextual translation
(don gyur) – of the texts from the Sanskrit
language are of the highest standard. Therefore,
if we are able to maintain this religion and
culture, it will also benefit the overall culture
of the PRC. Generally speaking, China is also a
Buddhist country. As the number of Chinese
Buddhists is increasing these days, we will
surely be able to contribute in this field. I think this is of mutual benefit.

Question Seven: If Tibet achieves genuine
autonomy or wins independence, do you have plans
to transform the system of governance in Tibet
into a democratic one? How will religion and politics be separated?

Answer: I do not think this question needs a
special answer. If you are interested, you can
come to India. You will then actually see how we
have carried out democratisation during our stay
in exile, how we have set up a political system
during the last 51 years and our future
programmes. For me personally, since 1969, I have
been saying that the people should decide whether
the institution of the Dalai Lama should continue
or not. I have no worry. The most important thing
is that we need to preserve and maintain the
unique Tibetan religion and culture. In terms of
Tibet’s development, it is very important not to
harm the natural environment. Tibet’s environment
is fragile and susceptible to damage. Because of
the high altitude and dry wind, it is said that
once damage occurs, it will take a long period to
restore the ecological balance. This is a special
issue that you must pay attention to. The
glaciers in the high Tibetan Plateau are the main
source of many of the great rivers in Asia. That
is why we should take special care of them.

Question Eight: What do you think will happen to
Tibetan unity once you are no longer in the
scene? Will the charisma of your successors be
able to control the Tibetan nationalists to
retain the non-violent and peaceful nature of your struggle?

Answer: It will make no difference. For over 30
years I have been saying that Tibetan religious
and political leaders must take responsibility as
if I am no longer with them. They have been doing
it and that is how they acquire experience. There
is a new leadership after every five years. There
will be a new political leader next year directly
elected by the people. In the religious field,
there are heads of each Buddhist school to take
responsibility. There is no difference whether I am with them or not.

Question Nine: You say that there should be a
democratic system for Tibet. However, when you
and your predecessors ruled Tibet did you rule
democratically? If not, what confidence do you
have to rule Tibet more democratically than Communist China?

Answer: The First to the Fourth Dalai Lamas did
not take part in politics. The Fifth Dalai Lama
became the temporal and religious leader of
Tibet. At that time there were no such thing as
democratic system in Tibet’s neighbours like
China, India and Russia. They were all largely
feudal societies. However Tibet had a strong
Buddhist tradition and the principle of
developing compassion for all sentient beings.
That is why, in 1959, when the ‘landlords’ were
put under struggle sessions following the
‘Democratic Reforms’, there were many ‘serfs’ who
came forward to save the lives of their
‘landlords’. Many of the ‘landlords’ were also
able to escape into exile in India with the help
of their ‘serfs’. Therefore, ‘serfs’ may be a
common phenomenon in all these feudal countries,
but the treatment of Tibetan ‘serfs’ was different.

At the end of 1955, ‘Democratic Reforms’ were
carried out in Tibet starting from Sichuan. As
elsewhere in China, ‘Democratic Reforms’ were
carried out in Tibet, which did not suit the
Tibetan situation. Such things happened. It is
important to investigate these things. You do not
have to believe these things because I said them.
If you have the freedom later to investigate it
is important to do so thoroughly.

In the later stages of his life, the Thirteenth
Dalai Lama thought about introducing a democratic
system in Tibet, but he was unable to carry it
out. In 1952, when I was in Lhasa we formed the
Reform Committee to make a number of changes to
our taxation and loan systems. But we were only
able to carry out some of them. Since I already
had thoughts about carrying out reforms from the
time I was in Tibet, we established a democratic
system immediately after we came into exile in
India. I have no intention of holding any post
when Tibetans in and outside are reunited. I made
this clear in 1992 that when there will be
autonomy or a considerable degree of freedom for
Tibet, we will return. However, I said, from that
time onwards I will not take any responsibility
and will hand over all my historical
responsibility to the local government. Even now
that is my thinking and I will never take any political roles.

Question Ten: What is your view on the Chinese
who are settled in Tibet and the
second-generation of Chinese living there? It is
possible that your 'High Level of Autonomy' may
end up marginalising them, which is the concern
of those Chinese inside Tibet who are opposing
you and the Tibetan administration in exile.

Answer: Tibet is an autonomous region. In that
region Tibetans cannot become a minority.
Otherwise, we will applaud however many Chinese
brothers and sisters decide to stay there.
Particularly, we will appreciate those Chinese
brothers and sisters who are interested in
Tibetan religion and culture. I normally say that
Chinese brothers and sisters can cook us
delicious food and we Tibetans can provide
spiritual food to them through Buddhism. That is
why there is absolutely no reason to worry. Then
there are those Chinese who look down upon
Tibetans by considering Tibetan Buddhism as bad
and the Tibetans as dirty. For them, there is no
reason to live in such a filthy place; it is
better for them to return to cleaner places.
Tibet predominantly practises Buddhism and in
Buddhism there is totally no reference to racial
discrimination. Earlier in Tibet, many of the
abbots in monasteries were Mongolians and there
were Chinese studying Buddhist scriptures as
well. We were of different races but there was no
discrimination whatsoever. Likewise, if there are
religious scholars amongst Chinese, they too can
become abbots and Lamas in Tibet. There is no difference at all.

Note: This is translated from the Tibetan. If
there is any discrepancy between this and the
Tibetan version, please treat the latter as authoritative and final.
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