October 19, 2004

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Tibetan reality

Time has an interview with the Dalia Lama. He is rapidly adapting to current realities in Tibet and moderating his views in a pragmatic way. How this leaves those in the "Free Tibet" movement remains to be seen. Some key parts of the interview:

TIME: You've faced some criticism for giving up Tibet's fight for independence.

Dalai Lama: Some Tibetans now accuse me of selling out their right to independence. Even my eldest brother is for complete independence and he always accuses me [of this]. But my approach is actually in our own interest. Tibet is backward, it's a big land, quite rich in natural resources, but we completely lack the technology or expertise [to exploit them]. So if we remain within China, we might get a greater benefit, provided it respects our culture and beautiful environment and gives us some kind of guarantee. For us [it would mean] more modernization.


TIME: was the international Free Tibet movement a fad, like saving the whales?

Dalai Lama: I don't think so. I think interest worldwide in Tibet and support groups are active still. Sometimes concerts happen, sometimes they don't. Another factor may be Afghanistan and Iraq; they make Tibet a secondary issue.

TIME: if international interest and pressure are not maintained, does China win?

Dalai Lama: China is already in a win-win situation in any case. It already controls Tibet...We're not suggesting separation, [but] that Tibet becomes more prosperous within China—and that it is also in the interests of the people of China to preserve our cultural heritage. Only if you seek independence or separation is it a question of win or lose.

The question unasked: will common sense survive the Dalai Lama's death? China should seize this opportunity to quickly achieve some kind of compromise that it can live with. If it is endorsed by the current Dalai Lama it will take much of the sting out of international criticism of China's position in Tibet, regardless of whether it is justified or not.

posted by Simon on 10.19.04 at 02:31 PM in the


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China asks the Dalai Lama to try harder
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Tracked: October 23, 2004 10:09 AM


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