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Dalai Lama optimistic about China talks

Latest update : 2008-05-23

On a "non-political" visit to London, the Dalai Lama stated he was ready to cooperate with the Olympic Games in Beijing, on condition that he is invited and that China agrees to further discussions on Tibet.

China's response to the earthquake disaster shows encouraging signs of openness but Beijing still lacks the moral authority of a true superpower, the Dalai Lama said in an interview broadcast Thursday.
   
The Chinese authorities are slowly becoming more transparent and Beijing's Western economic allies need to spell out where they are going wrong, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader told BBC radio.
   
The Dalai Lama is in Britain until May 30 as part of a five-country tour, with talks on human rights and peace as well as meetings with lawmakers including Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
   
The Buddhist monk was asked whether the transparency shown by China in dealing with the earthquake gave him hope about the way Beijing might deal with Tibet in the future.
   
"It is an indication that China is changing, becoming more open, and I think the leadership gradually or cautiously moves onto more openness, more transparent," he said.
   
"This is good so I'm hopeful about the handling in government and media with earthquake, I think quite transparent. It is a wonderful, an encouraging sign."
   
He described the earthquake's impact as "shocking".
   
"When I heard about young children, the students, then I really felt because of one child policy, I think many of these children's parents they have only one child.  So if that one vanish, how much pain, very, very sad."
   
The 8.0-magnitude earthquake on May 12 which struck the south-western Sichuan province has killed or left missing more than 74,000 people, according to the Chinese government, and left 5.2 million people homeless.
   
The Dalai Lama agreed that the West needed good economic ties with China more than it needed greater Tibetan independence.
   
"But now the Tibet issue, mainly now here, human rights and also religious freedom and environment issues," the monk said.
   
"Now these things -- China, their ambition is to become a superpower. It is deserved -- most populous nation and ancient nation.
   
"So in order to become a superpower, a respected superpower -- moral authority here now they are lacking, so the Tibetans are saying if you are real genuine close friend then make correction of your friend's mistakes!
   
"So human rights, religious freedom and environmental issues -- these are in the long run more important than the economy."
   
The Dalai Lama said he did not understand why Beijing should see him as a threat.
   
"I feel it's due to narrow-mindedness," he said.
   
"They are in no danger. Instead I think if they give proper freedom or proper policy, then I think it will (be) immense help to develop unity and stability and harmony, which President Hu Jintao very much emphasises -- building a harmonious society."
   
He reiterated his call for the Beijing Olympic Games this August to be respected, along with the Olympic torch relay, due to pass through Tibet from June 19-21.
   
"I always supported the Olympic Games, right from the beginning," the spiritual leader said.
   
"There are over a billion Chinese brothers and sisters who feel very much proud of it. Therefore we must respect, we should not disturb.
   
"Now, the (world) leaders, whether to attend or not -- that's up to the individual."
   
Later Thursday, the Dalai Lama was to give evidence concerning China's human rights record in Tibet to a parliamentary oversight committee on foreign affairs -- including Beijing's military crackdown on protests there in March.
   
He was then to give a speech at London's Royal Albert Hall.
   
The monk was also to hold private talks with Prince Charles at the heir to the throne's Clarence House residence in London, where he was to plant a tree to mark his visit.
   
The two would "talk about their interest in spiritual matters", said a Clarence House spokesman, while declining to disclose the topics likely to be discussed.
   
Prince Charles' relations with China have not always been smooth. In leaked memos written by Charles in 1997 he described China's leaders as "appalling old waxworks" when he attended the Hong Kong handover ceremony.
   
The Free Tibet campaign has said that Charles's spokesman told it in a letter he will not attend the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony.
   

Date created : 2008-05-22

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