Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on a US visit to Maryland last week. He has not returned to Tibet since fleeing in 1959. Photo: AFP

Tibetans don't want their exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to return to his homeland, a senior Chinese official has told visiting Nepalese and Indian journalists.

“They respect him culturally and in their religion, but they don’t agree with his political ideology," said Cui Yuying, a deputy director of the State Council Information Office, according to a report in the Kathmandu Post.
Tibetans respected the 77-year-old, who has spent most of his life in exile, because of his title, she said  on Thursday, adding that that title "was conferred by the central government" in Beijing. 

The 14th Dalai Lama was recognised as his predecessor's reincarnation in 1950, a year after the founding of the People's Republic, which considers Tibet a part of historical China. He has not returned to the country since his flight after a failed uprising in 1959.

Now in retirement, he continues to campaign for " meaningful autonomy" for the 6.4 million Tibetans living in China. The Chinese government has accused his "clique" of inciting self-immolations and acts of violence on the mainland.
"The Dalai Lama has been living in India as a guest," the  Press Trust of India quoted Cui as saying. "The Indian government has said that it will not allow the Dalai Lama to indulge in any political activity. China has full confidence in it."

Cui, an ethnic Tibetan, has previously served as the director of the Communist Party's publicity department in the Tibet autonomous region, which covers a large part of historical Tibet.

Tibetans in exile were welcome to return to Chinese-controlled region "on an individual basis", she reportedly said. "Tibetans are returning to Tibet from India," she said.

According to the United Nationals High Commissioner for Refugees' Office in Nepal, some 800 Tibetans continue to sneak from China through Nepal to India every year. 
There, they join some 94,000 refugees already living in Tibetan communities, according to a 2010 estimate by the government-in-exile in Dharamsala.
Despite criticism from China, India has given the Tibetan community widespread autonomy and is currently  transitioning Tibetan schools to be put under the authority of the government-in-exile.   
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is expected to address the issue during his  visit to India on Sunday, in what is his first overseas trip since assuming office in March.