Dalai Lama sees chance of change in Tibet

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 September, 2012, 9:07pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2012, 9:07pm

The Dalai Lama held out the possibility on Thursday that an upcoming change in China’s leadership offered the chance of a new approach in Tibet.

“The new leadership must use common sense and a more holistic view to serve long term-interest. There is no other way,” the spiritual leader said in an interview with the BBC.

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

The Tibetans’ exiled political leadership said earlier this week that the region had been turned into a giant prison amid a spate of self-immolations to protest Chinese rule.

Exiles are holding a four-day general meeting in their base in Dharamsala in northern India, the first such gathering since the Dalai Lama formally withdrew last year from political duties to focus on his religious obligations.

Xi Jinping, who is expected to be named as China’s president in an imminent leadership change in Beijing, has set off a ripple of speculation that he may bring about a change of policy towards Tibet.

One reason is that Xi’s father, Xi Zhongxun, met and came to know the Dalai Lama in Beijing in the early 1950s, before the Tibetan spiritual leader fled a failed uprising.

Xi senior, a party official at the time, later became a liberal vice premier known to be sympathetic towards minorities, and Tibetan exiles and analysts raise the possibility that such thinking may have passed down a generation.

“His father was familiar with Tibet and had an association with the Dalai Lama,” Lobsang Sangay, prime minister of the Tibetan government-in-exile, said earlier this week.

“Whether the son can be like the father is still to be seen,” he told reporters. “Tibetans are always hopeful.”

Beijing insists that Tibet is an integral part of China and that the Dalai Lama is determined to split the Himalayan region from the rest of the country – though he says he only seeks greater autonomy and religious freedom.