Dalai Lama: China Can Change

April 14th 2008

Seattle, WA, USA, 14 April 2008 (By Brad Wong, Seattle Post Intelligencer) - With tensions in Tibet continuing and talk of a Beijing Olympic boycott hovering, the Dalai Lama used a Seattle news conference Sunday to say he believes the Chinese Communist Party has the ability to change and China deserves to be a global powerhouse.

In a nuanced, hourlong discussion with reporters, the Tibetan spiritual and political leader stressed that trust -- meaning that leaders must do what they say they will -- is necessary for any country to be deemed a superpower.

The 72-year-old gave his remarks before attending a panel discussion for the Seeds of Compassion conference, a five-day gathering about empathy and education.

Wearing a maroon robe and carrying a satchel, he opened his news conference by joking that he had nothing to discuss.

By the end, though, he had talked about praying for Tibetans and Chinese who died in last month's riots and China since 1949, the year when Mao Zedong took power.

Since the Communists gained control, he said, the country has experienced various stages of change with different leaders. That change has included a strict adherence to ideology, a shift to pragmatism and earning money, as well as the promotion of a "harmonious society."

He reviewed that history to point out the Chinese Communist Party has the ability to change "according to reality."

The 21st century, he added, should be about transparency. Hypocrisy and distortion, he noted, "will no longer work."

But the world's most populous country has the people, military strength and economy to elevate it to a higher level in the international community, he said.

"They deserve to be a superpower," he said in English. "... (But) moral authority is necessary."

His comments come as the world focuses greater attention on the Beijing Olympics and China's controversial human rights record.

Last month, protests and riots broke out in Tibet, which is part of China. Tibet supporters also have rallied during the Olympic torch run in London, Paris and San Francisco.

On Sunday, the Dalai Lama repeated his calls for nonviolence and Tibetan autonomy, which he defined as more influence in religion, the economy and environment.

·  On his life since the March protests in Tibet:

"I practice one method of compassion, take-and-give. Take from so-called troublemaker. ... Visualize these people and take their fear, their doubt, their anger, their hatred. ... And my compassion, forgiveness, these things, try to give them."

·  On the Beijing Olympics and whether he will be invited:

"I fully support the Olympics. ... (But) I don't think I will get an invitation (laughing)." He said the most important question is "not the invitation but the situation inside Tibet."

·  On immediate steps the Chinese government could take in Tibet and allegations that he instigated the riots:

"Open to the world. Allow visitors, particularly media people. Let them go there, see the actual situation. ... If people found that all this trouble (was) created by me by outside, then I'm waiting for punishment."

·  On Tibetans and China:

"A Tibetan should be a citizen of the People's Republic of China. I mean, a happy citizen of the People's Republic of China. I always feel remaining separate, weak, poor. Instead of that, join thousands of millions of people. Prosperity, dignity. Much better."

·  On Tibetans and free speech:

"Demonstration is one way of expression. ... Some Tibetans have actually criticized me and some Tibetans criticize Buddhism. I have no right to say, 'shut up.' It is their right."

·  On the Chinese constitution, which he said protects minorities, including their language and culture:

"Unfortunately, certain things mentioned on paper and the practice ... unfortunately, there is a gap."

·  On why the Chinese government dislikes him:

"Maybe, I am not acting like a 'yes' minister."

·  On what he would do if a majority of Tibetans support violent demonstrations:

"If violence becomes out of control, then my only option is resign."

·  On selection of his successor:

"I don't think there is much hurry. My physical health is quite OK. Another 10 or 15 years, then come later."

·  On how Tibetans can bring their case to the world:

"Please don't forget us. Whatever way, help us."


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