His Holiness Addresses Chinese Conference About Tibetan-Chinese Relationship

July 11th 2011

Washington DC, USA, 10 July 2011 - On July 10 His Holiness left the hotel in the morning for the Verizon Center to continue with the preparatory rituals. Later in the morning, His Holiness departed to the venue of the conference on Democratic China and the Future of Tibet to address its participants.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama is welcomed on his arrival at the conference on Democratic China in Washington DC on July 10, 2011. Photo/Sonam Zoksang
Dr. Chen Kuide of Princeton China Initiative, the organizer, introduced His Holiness at the conference. In his address, His Holiness mentioned that the Tibetan-Chinese relationship goes back to thousands of years during which there were occasions when ties were cordial as well as occasions when there were disputes.   He said in modern times, when he visited Beijing in 1954-55 he experienced a positive feeling that gave him confidence. He recalled his meeting Chinese general Zhang Guohua on his return journey to Lhasa from Beijing in 1955 during which he told General Zhang that when he left for Beijing the year before he went with trepidation but he was now returning full of hope and confidence.

His Holiness told the gathering about his interest in Marxism and socialism and while in China he had in fact expressed a desire to join the Communist Party of China. However, Liu Geping, then head of the State Nationalities Affairs Commission, had told him that there was no need to hurry on this issue. His Holiness joked that his friend Liu may have known how the Communist Party would fare in coming years.  His Holiness said today the Chinese Communist Party is confronted with problems like corruption and that the party had become a capitalist communist party.  There were problems not just with regard to Tibet, but in China in general. These problems need to be solved by the people, His Holiness said.  He added that just as the world belonged to humanity, similarly China belonged to the people in China and the ultimate owner of the country is the people.

His Holiness said that in the initial years of the People’s Republic of China, the Communist Party did enjoy widespread support among the people, particularly among the working class.  However, he wondered what would be the outcome if there were an independent survey of the views of the people in China on the Communist Party.  He said he had always maintained that the 1.3 billion of people in China have every right to know the reality and that 1.3 billion people in China also have the ability to judge what is right and what is wrong. He added that implementing censorship and spreading distorted information were immoral.

His Holiness said that force and violence could not stop the problems from continuing. He referred to the demonstrations in Tibet in 2008, in Xinjiang in 2009 and now in Inner Mongolia. His Holiness said what was needed is for truth to be understood and addressed.


His Holiness addresses the conference on Democratic China and the Future of Tibet in Washington DC on July 10, 2011. Photo/Sonam Zoksang
His Holiness said that even on the issue of Tibet the reality was not being seen and that there were distorted information being spread.  He recalled the Chinese authorities terming him as a demon in 2008.  Saying that the Chinese brothers and sisters should assist in resolving the Tibetan problem, His Holiness said that it was important to understand the truth about the Tibetan issue.

His Holiness then talked about his devolution of authority to the elected Tibetan leadership.  He said that since 2001 when the process of direct election of the Kalon Tripa began, he had been in a state of semi-retirement.  After the changes this year, he said the rule by Gaden Phodrang government had come to an end.  His Holiness said that this year the Tibetans had an election for Kalon Tripa and introduced Dr. Lobsang Sangay, who was also sitting on the stage, as the winner.  His Holiness said he was born in India, did schooling in Tibetan schools, did higher studies in Delhi University and Harvard University. His Holiness joked that he did not know Dr. Sangay’s ability in Tibetan, but said that he enjoyed his full trust and he was confident that he would do well.

Thereafter, His Holiness answered some questions from the conference participants.

In response to a question about his Middle Way Approach, His Holiness said that it came about after thorough deliberations on the short-term and long-term impact with people both in exile and in Tibet and that it was formalized through majority support of the people.  His Holiness said that intellectuals in China had also supported his approach.

His Holiness said that the new Tibetan leadership has also publicly affirmed its support to the Middle Way Approach.

On another question, His Holiness said that henceforth all political responsibilities would be shouldered by the elected leadership. He added that the Chinese authorities, who accuse him of being a separatist, and specifically the United Front Work Department, who consider him a problem, should know that he had fully retired.   His Holiness clarified that the issue of Tibet was not that of the Dalai Lama. He recalled his rejection of the five points of message that the Chinese Government sent to him in the 1980s to resolve the Tibetan issue because all these points dealt with his personal matters.  He said in the past he had not worked for any personal status and will not do so in the future, too.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama, along with his interperters and Central Tibetan Administration Kalon Tripa-elect, answer questions from the audience at the conference on Democratic China and the Future of Tibet in Washington DC on July 10, 2011. Photo/Sonam Zoksang
To a question about any change of policy away from the Middle Way Approach, His Holiness let Dr. Lobsang Sangay respond. Dr. Sangay said that he had campaigned for the position with the platform of Middle Way Approach and the people had voted for him showing their support for this approach. He added that it is a hypothetical question on what would happen in the future but it is up to the people to decide.

His Holiness added that when he first laid out his Middle Way Approach he had maintained that ultimately, it would be up to the Tibetan people to decide.

Talking about China’s responsibilities, His Holiness said that the country had the potential to contribute to the development of the world and be an important player. He said what was required was respect and trust by the international community towards China, which was missing currently.

Talking about development of democracy in China His Holiness said that he thought a more gradual path towards democracy was more appropriate as any overnight change could result in chaos.  What were needed in China in the immediate future was transparency, end to media censorship, and a systems of rules that meet international standards.  He said that today whether it was laws or the Constitution they were all connected to the Party.

His Holiness also talked about the gradual degeneration of the Chinese Communist Party. During the time of Mao Zedong, His Holiness said the Party leaders were sincere individuals. He said he wondered what Mao would say if he saw today’s Chinese Communist Party.  His Holiness said in the past, Mao had termed the Russian Communist leader Khrushchev as a revisionist. Today’s Chinese Communist Party had become a greater revisionist, His Holiness added.

To another question, His Holiness talked about his interest in democracy from his childhood. He said that while in Tibet he saw that the existing political system was not benefiting the poor and the needy section of the society. Even though he had set up a Reforms Commission in 1952 the Chinese officials in Tibet posed obstacles to implementing the reforms.  It was only after coming to India in 1959 that he was able to launch the democratization of the Tibetan society. Through gradual development beginning in 1960, we reached the stage in 2001 where the political leadership began to be directly elected by the people. This has further developed to the situation that we are in today.  Thus, His Holiness said that Tibetan democracy was something that was based on over 60 years of experience and not something thought of suddenly.

The two-day conference began on July 9 and is being participated by around 100 Chinese writers and democracy proponents as well as Tibetans and others.


His Holiness the Dalai Lama speaking during the second day of the preliminary teachings at the Verizon Center in Washington DC on July 10, 2011. Photo/Tenzin Choejor/OHHDL
His Holiness then left for the teaching venue, where he continued teaching on the Stages of Meditation by Kamalashila as well as the 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva by Thokmey Sangpo.  Before going to the actual texts, His Holiness gave an introduction to Buddhism.  Today’s session began with the recitation of the Heart Sutra in Chinese. On July 9, the session began with the recitation of the Heart Sutra in Pali and Sanskrit.

The teachings are being translated into English, Chinese, Russian, Vietnamese, Italian, Spanish, French, Japanese and Mongolian.  They are also being webcast live on www.dalailama.com.

 

 

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