Chinese scholars hope Dalai Lama could visit Beijing for talks

By Phurbu Thinley, Phayul, November 3, 2008

Dharamsala, India -- Exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Saturday met with a group of Chinese scholars in which the latter expressed wish that the Tibetan leader could visit Beijing and speak with Chinese leadership.

14 Chinese scholars working in Japan, mostly as teachers of politics, of religion, of ethnic studies and other such subjects met with the Dalai Lama in a small private meeting, Tsewang Gyalpo Arya, an official from the Liaison Office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama for Japan & East Asia, in Japan, told Phayul.

According to Tsewang, the meeting lasted for more than two hours and held discussion that delved into issues mainly surrounding Tibet’s problem.

The Chinese scholars asked Dalai Lama questions ranging from clarifications on the history of Tibet's relations with China, on his own dealings with the government in Beijing and on his plans for the future.

Tsewang said the Chinese professors grew more and more animated and forthcoming in their comments as the discussion went on.

Tsewang commented that upon hearing the Dalai Lama’s words, the Chinese scholars did not hesitate to express their wish that the Tibetan leader could visit Beijing and speak with the Chinese leadership on his stated positions.

During the discussion, Tsewang said, “His Holiness described in detail his dealings with Mao Zedong in 1954, how Chairman Mao used to treat him at times like a son, and how His Holiness admired many aspects of the socialist system”.

“His Holiness also recalled how Chairman Mao had said that China would help Tibet in material development for the next 20 years, and then a strong and powerful Tibet would be in a position to help China,” Tsewang said of the Dalai Lama’s meeting with Chinese scholars.

“He stressed that he had always spoken out against Olympic protests … and that Tibet needed to be part of the People's Republic for economic reasons,” Tsewang said.

Tsewang said the Dalai Lama also explained the Chinese group that he saw the place of the Tibetan Youth Congress, which China has unduly tried to tag it as an organization involved in violent terrorist activities, and its wish for full independence, even though the youth congress’ policy is differed from that of his own, within a democracy.

During the discussion, Tsewang said the Dalai Lama emphasized over and over again that he had great confidence in Chinese people, but his trust in dealing with the Chinese leadership was shimmering.

On the other hand, he commended that the Chinese Communist Party has, in certain ways, been very realistic in adapting to changing circumstances through the moment from the Mao Zedong era to the Deng Xiapoing era to the time of Jiang Zemin to the preset.

The Dalai Lama, however, maintained that the key word in the Chinese term for ‘People's Republic’ is ‘unity’.

"We have to have unity in terms of equality," he said, adding: "Unity must be based on trust. Trust must be based on equality."

The Tibetan leader told the scholars that the future of Tibetans in Tibet must be decided by Tibetans in Tibet. "The Tibetan issue,” he reiterated, "is not my private issue”. “It is the issue of Tibet as a whole and we are completely committed to democracy,” he told the Chinese audience.

Later in the afternoon, the Dalai Lama met a group of 150 Chinese students and some 50 other Chinese individuals living in Japan.

Tsewang said the groups engaged in a spirited discussion with the Dalai Lama that lasted for almost three hours, a full hour longer than the allotted time.

Dalai Lama began the meeting, Tsewang said, by saying Chinese Buddhists are senior students of the Buddha, and so, as a younger student, he came with respect towards his elders”.

Dalai Lama told the gathering that, despite the disturbances in March, Tibetans were not against Chinese, and that, wherever he traveled in recent months, he was delighted to meet new Chinese friends.

During the discussion session, one unidentified Chinese attendee explained how his view on the Dalai Lama changed completely after attending a talk by the Tibetan spiritual leader in Yokohama last year.

He explained until last year, he had always believed what he had heard in China about the Dalai Lama being an autocratic politician.

He said the fact that the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize, made him think that there must be something that spoke to the world. This made him attend the talk the Dalai Lama offered in Yokohama.

Since then, he said, he found the Dalai Lama was transparent and trustworthy, and had been telling his Chinese friends to listen and to open up their minds and ears.

Beijing, however, regularly accuses the Dalai Lama of trying to split Tibet from China, which sent military troops to occupy the predominantly Buddhist Himalayan country in 1949, and has regularly protested against countries that agree to visits by him.

The Dalai Lama says he is only seeking a “real and meaningful” autonomy for Tibetan people within China and opposes the use of violence. He maintains he has a moral responsibility to act as the free spokesperson of the Tibetans in their struggle for justice, and says this commitment will cease to exist once a mutually beneficial solution is reached between the Tibetans and Chinese.

Dalai Lama’s afternoon meeting with Chinese student and individual groups revolved mostly around the issue of Tibet and those Tibetans who are skeptical of his Middle Way policy in resolving Tibet’s issue.

“The whole world believes that I am working for unity, except the Chinese government,” the Dalai Lama told the Chinese groups. "So what can I do?" he said after pausing for a while.

Dalai Lama explained that he had asked the Chinese government to send people to come to Dharmasala to investigate his papers, even to go over recordings of what he said to Tibetans from Tibet, to see if he had really urged dissent. He said the Chinese government did not respond to undertake such an objective investigation.

Dalai Lama also took time to relate stories of death and violence he had heard from Tibetans who traveled to Dhramsala in recent months after the March unrest in Tibet this year.

Tsewang said the Dalai Lama devoted the remaining part of the prolonged discussion talking on compassion and interdependence, the two central principles of Buddhism, to rapturous applauses from the Chinese audience.

Tsewang said many Chinese individuals asked the Dalai Lama for Buddhist counsel on how to be a better person.

"If your mind is calm," the Dalai Lama said, "everything will improve”. “Definitely suffering and happiness don't come from heaven,” he said.

“Therefore, if we are looking for happiness, we should be kind to others," the Dalai Lama said before concluding his discussion.

As His Holiness was leaving the place, Tsewang said, dozens of Chinese people in the audience cloaked around him and were sobbing with emotion.

The 73-year old Tibetan leader arrived in Japan on Friday for a week-long visit. He will stay until November 7 and is scheduled to give talks on spirituality from Tuesday.

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