Apr 19, 2004

Tibet: Asking Only 'Meaningful Autonomy' for Tibet, says Dalai Lama

Dalai Lama calls for a "middle of the road approach" that means not seeking separation or independence from China
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Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, is on a visit to Canada during which he will meet with Prime Minister Paul Martin. In Vancouver Saturday the Dalai Lama discussed relations between the People's Republic of China and his Tibetan homeland.
Speaking to reporters, the Dalai Lama says that he is not campaigning for an independent Tibet, but would like some sort of meaningful autonomy. He calls this a "middle of the road approach" that means not seeking separation or independence.

The 69-year-old Buddhist monk says that his homeland is backward materially with a small population over a big area, has virtually no modern universities, and is not technologically developed. He feels there is a mutual benefit for Tibet to cooperate with the Chinese government.

After two sets of negotiations with the People's Republic of China, he says it still thinks he wants independence. He says Chinese spies can visit his offices in India to find out the truth for themselves.

"I want to invite some Chinese spy," said Dalai Lama. "Come to Dharamsala. Stay there. Look what we are doing, what we are saying and if necessary, go [to] our offices and check our files."

Despite Beijing's refusal to believe he is serious, the Dalai Lama says that Tibet is a part of Mainland China. He says that he wants to help create more success for Tibet and China.

"But, the Chinese government still you see, repeating these things, so for the time being, most important is build confidence," he said. "Since the Chinese government really believe we are not seeking independence, we are really genuinely, want to build the People's Republic of China as a whole. Tibet is part. So, more prosperity, more development of Tibet means prosperity or development of People's Republic of China."

While in Vancouver, the Dalai Lama will hold roundtable discussions with fellow Nobel Peace Prize winners, Shirin Ebadi and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He will also receive two honorary degrees alongside Mr. Tutu and hold public speeches.

He will meet with Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin in Ottawa later in the week. Mr. Martin says he will meet with the Dalai Lama despite protests from China.

The Dalai Lama says his talk with Mr. Martin will focus on spiritual issues, which is the purpose of his trip to Canada.


Source: VOA