CHINA and Tibet can exist together in the “spirit” of the European Union, the Dalai Lama said in a video message to a save-Tibet organisation based in Washington DC.
The spiritual leader is considered a dangerous separatist by Beijing. Nine years after Chinese troops seized control of Tibet in 1950, he was forced to flee to India after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule. There, he set up a government in exile in the foothills of Dharamsala.
He says he only seeks autonomy for his homeland, not outright independence. He has also expressed a desire to return to Tibet.
“I always, you see, admire the spirit of (the) European Union,” the Dalai Lama said in the video to the International Campaign for Tibet on Thursday.
“Common interest (is) more important rather than one’s own national interest. With that kind of concept, I am very much willing to remain within the People’s Republic of China. The Chinese word, “gongheguo” (republic), shows some kind of union is there.”
We are deeply honored to receive this special video message from His Holiness the #DalaiLama, expressing his support and his hopes for our work for #Tibet in the coming years: pic.twitter.com/hAWYkJuZr5
— Intl Campaign Tibet (@SaveTibetOrg) March 15, 2018
China says Tibet in an integral part of its territory and has been for centuries. Beijing also says its rule ended serfdom and brought prosperity to what was a backward region, and that it fully respects the rights of the Tibetan people.
Beijing has long seen the Dalai Lama as the leader of “Tibetan independence,” but the spiritual leader is preaching a more muted message of “meaningful autonomy.”
“I always describe that the supporter of the Tibetan cause is not pro-Tibet, but rather pro-justice,” he said in the video to the decades-old movement.
While the Dalai Lama reiterated his desire for reconciliation as Xi Jinping begins his second five-year term as China’s president, he also said the Tibetan issue was not about to go away.
“Among the Chinese hard-liners, in their mind, it seems some kind of dilemma is there about their present policy – whether, you see, it can solve Tibetan problem or not,” he said.
Additional reporting by Reuters