His Holiness Dalai Lama spoke for a hour with delegates from the Interfaith and InterEthnic Leadership Conference and the Tibetan-Chinese Friendship Society.
Below are notes from His Holiness talk.
His Holiness: I am very pleased to meet you and we are here without fear, very happy together. But we have to remember our folks, they had bad days, with which we are very sad. We cannot forget them.
I met a lot of friends from mainland China since the Tiananmen Incident. For them, I consider myself an elder. As an elder, I have experience to know the struggle is not easy; it is long-term and difficult. Your heart is very important. The truth is always the truth, we can not do away with it. The struggle is very important. We should also pay attention to it.
What follows is a Q & A:
Q: The Tibetan government in exile and the Chinese government had nine negotiations but were not successful. Why is the Venerable still insistent on the middle road?
A: First of all, I do not agree that our government is a government in exile. We are exiles, so we organized a government in a place of exile.
In 1974, when China was still engaged in the Cultural Revolution, in very heated struggle, we had built many schools. We could stop to discuss our future and the way of peace talks. In 1979, we began to have contact with the Central Government. Deng Xiaoping said, “Except for independence, anything can be discussed.” We did a poll, of course, in our place, but in Tibet, we also collected views from the people. We came to the conclusion that the peace talks was the best way to go.
Ms. Rebiya Kadeer wants independence. I shared with her my opinion and my rationale. She also said she supported my idea. Ms. Rebiya Kadeer, did you say so? (Rebiya Kadeer did not say anything.) CCP’s United Front Work Department said that I was engaged in separation. Rebiya Kadeer is to support my point of view.
In 2011, we held the first election, I am now semi-retired. Leaders after the election also support my point of view, I can retire completely, withdraw from the political life. The middle road is received.
Q: You have raised the concept of “Greater Tibet”. Charter 08 promotes a federation of China. If China is democratized, in your opinion, how will the Chinese and Tibetan people get along?
A: We do not have the concept of “Greater Tibet,” which is imposed to us by the United Front Work Department. Our demand is under the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, as an autonomous region, autonomous prefecture, or autonomous county, the terms to be implemented uniformly. The difficulty in the whole Tibet is the same: culture, language and customs, as well as environmental, the problem is the same. Tibet is the same nation; there is the need for complete protection of their culture, customs and habits.
Our idea of the future of Tibet is within the People’s Republic of China. There are two aspects. First, Tibet is very large, vast, rich in resources, and with great hope. Within China, development is beneficial. Tibetan language and culture (especially Buddhist culture is very unique and great), the environment (facing great danger, is very fragile), deserve special protection. The Autonomous government can do a better job, which is a win-win idea. Our idea is consistent with Deng Xiaoping’s principle: “except independence, anything can be discussed.” However, the Chinese media and the United Front Work Department always distorted and demonized us and said I was a separatist, Nazi. I heard them say that I am a demon. I said: yes, I am, because my head is with…. Chinese people do not know the whole situation in Tibet. There is no freedom of media. Freedom and democracy are very important in helping people understand the facts and the truth. If China achieves democracy, the issue of Tibet can be solved within a week. This issue is not only in Tibet, also in Xinjiang, and Mongolia. The same can be solved. So far the Chinese government is still maintaining stability. Their way is high pressure and repression, which could only make things worse and worse. In 2008 in Tibet, 2009 in Xinjiang and 2011 In Mongolia, something always happens. Not all things in China goes well; we see the Chinese people petitioning endlessly. You see the Wukan event. Guangdong leaders are more liberal and opened elections. Wukan things are solved peacefully. When Liu Xiaobo wrote Charter 08, I was in Poland. I fully supported it. After that, I heard that Liu Xiaobo was arrested. But I believe that China will change. We see that Premier Wen Jiabao mentioned the political reforms in recent years, especially this NPC press conference. He raised this issue in tough ways. The next day, we saw the secretary of Chongqing, Bo Xilai, step down.
It can be seen that the change is a peaceful development. I’ve said before, Dr. Yang also knows that: change should be led by the Communist Party, controlled by the Communist Party. After doing it, the Communist Party could get its honorable retirement (Applause).
Q: What about the separation of church and state? Venerable, can you be back to Tibet as just a religious leader? If you return to Tibet, what are your minimum requirements?
A: They want me to go back, but if I was the devil, where is the devil’s palace? The devil’s palace should be in prison. So I will go to a jail. I am a bit sad; a lot of (Chinese) people thought that I was the separatist, the devil, against the Chinese people. I am very sad.
I think the important point is the transparency of the social mechanism, let the facts be under the sun. I have several times repeated: Among 1.3 billion Chinese people, some have the ability to look at things objectively, they know the facts, have the ability to analyze. Hiding the facts and monopolizing the media are very unethical. In addition, the rule of law in China is very important in order to reach the international level. My responsibility has been to the elected political leaders; my mission is religious, the upgrading of human love and universal values. That is, promoting harmony between religions. I also hope that could be done in mainland China. Although there are such good wishes, it is very difficult to accomplish them in the kingdom of lies. I have a lot of Chinese friends, especially the mainland friends, and I am exchanging ideas with them. During the 1951-1959 period, I learned a lot of hypocritical ways, hypocritical practice. I went to India in April 1959, I broke out (“liberated”). Now I’m 76 years old, almost 77 years old. I do not want to be hypocritical.
Q: I am very grateful for your support of Liu Xiaobo. I respect the Venerable. As a religious leader, what is your view of prisoners of conscience in China, such as Liu or Chen Guangcheng?
A: These prisoners of conscience do not violate the law, their pursuit is of the truth, they are prisoners of conscience in the true sense. They are fighting for truth and justice. Their efforts will have good results.
I admire your courage. We should learn from Mao Zedong, he had courage in the revolutionary period, especially during the Yan’an period. Today, freedom and democracy are blooming all over the world. Today’s pursuit is not the same. He was under tremendous adversities, but indeed very hardworking. To work the world in this direction, you should work hard, do not lose confidence. Liu took the Nobel Peace Prize. Burma’s Aung San Suu Kyi won the Peace Prize, she was under house arrest. Under international pressure, Myanmar’s government and culture changed. Aung San Suu Kyi was released. I believe that Liu Xiaobo as the Nobel Peace Prize winner, will get the world’s attention; his situation will change, which I said to Dr. Yang.
A very young girl said, “As participants of the Camp, I am very grateful to you, I would like to give you a gift. I also thank you all.”
A: I have a friend who, when he was 10 years old in England, got bullets blinding his eyes. He did not have any complaints, he is a very peaceful person. The inner thought is very important. No eyes, he could not see anything, his wisdom is very important. Whoever has an altruistic heart will be full of sunlight.
Q: I am here on behalf of the native Taiwanese and Taiwan Civil government. Taiwanese are not Chinese, just like the Tibetans are not Chinese, Mongolians are not Chinese. Our efforts are to get international attention. The most important is to constrain the Communist Party of China and its exile government in Taiwan. I would like to give you a hada on behalf of Taiwan’s natives.
A: One China or two Chinas, that is a very complex issue, ah!
Notes from the meeting taken in Chinese by Guodi Sun, Chinese to English Translation by Teresa Mei Chuc