Dalai Lama: Hope for new China approach to Tibet

Dalai Lama: "Relying on using force and censorship, remain a closed society... is almost like suicide"

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The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, says he hopes for a new Chinese approach to Tibet with the expected change in its leadership next month.

His comments come as the Tibetan exile movement meets at its headquarters in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala to discuss its future strategy.

There is growing concern over the number of Tibetans self-immolating or setting themselves on fire.

Activists say 51 Tibetans have set themselves on fire since 2009.

Tibet divide

  • China says Tibet always part of its territory
  • Tibet had long periods of autonomy
  • China launched a military assault in 1950
  • Opposition to Chinese rule led to a bloody uprising in 1959
  • Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, fled to India
  • Dalai Lama now advocates a "middle way" with Beijing, seeking autonomy but not independence

The Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government-in-exile are under increasing pressure - not just from Beijing but now also from their followers who are divided over how to continue their struggle against Chinese rule.

Some of those gathering in Dharamsala this week want a more assertive policy, including more open backing of Tibetans setting themselves on fire, while others say this tactic is against Buddhist teachings and want another approach.

The Dalai lama has steered a middle course.

In a BBC interview, he said the immolations were a symptom of China's repressive rule in Tibet and called on its new leadership to accept the need for change.

"The new leadership must use common sense and a more holistic view to serve long term-interest. There is no other way.

"Just using force, censorship and to remain a closed society is almost like suicide. Judging that way, I feel there is possibility or a real chance to change."

Beijing says Tibet is an integral part of China and accuses the Dalai Lama of trying to break the Himalayan region away.

The Dalai Lama says he only wants greater autonomy.

But, he said, it was getting harder to reach an agreement because of an increasing divide between ethnic Tibetans and the Han Chinese who have been encouraged to move there by Beijing.

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