Chinese people are in need of the “peace, compassion and non-violence” advocated by Tibetan Buddhist culture, the Himalayan region’s exiled spiritual leader has said in a wide-ranging interview with FRANCE 24.
The 79-year-old Nobel Peace Prize-winner stressed the importance of preserving Tibetan culture, pointing to the “gap between rich and poor in China” and the country’s “immense corruption”.
China's Communist regime invaded Tibet in 1950. Today, many Tibetans feel their Buddhist culture risks being wiped out by Chinese rule and an influx of settlers from the majority Han ethnic group.
The Dalai Lama fled to neighbouring India in 1959 after Chinese troops crushed an attempted uprising in Tibet. He has never been allowed back.
Chinese officials view him as a “separatist”, though he says he only wants autonomy for the region.
In the interview aired on Wednesday, the exiled spiritual leader suggested hardliners in Beijing were holding President Xi Jinping back from granting genuine autonomy to the Himalayan region.
The Dalai Lama said he had been encouraged by Xi's recent comments on the importance of Buddhism in Chinese culture. "This is something very unusual," he said. "A communist, usually, we consider atheist."
Asked if the remarks led him to believe Xi was ready to discuss calls for genuine autonomy, the spiritual leader said he thought there were "some indications".
"But at the same time, among the establishment, there is a lot of hardliner thinking still there. So he himself sometimes finds it's a difficult situation," the Dalai Lama said.