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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Conciliatory Dalai Lama expounds on winds of change - Tibetan culture & Buddhism are part of Chinese Culture

This interview with Dalai Lama on the headlines of Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post could have been a significant news event on world headlines. However, with the rise of China to near superpower status means that Tibet, for better or worse, has become a foregone game. The truth of this hypothesis is perhaps also the reason why the Dalai Lama has made such a great concession towards the Chinese.

This is not the only thing interesting in this SCMP report. The Dalai Lama spoke about Tibetan culture and Buddhism being an essential part of Chinese culture and how the Chinese Government may find Tibetan religion more appetizing and appealing than Western culture in the evolving new China. In this aspect, the Dalai Lama spoke like a Western CEO eyeing at the Chinese market, or rather, the Chinese spiritual market.

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Conciliatory Dalai Lama expounds on winds of change (SCMP)

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March 14, 2005

Money is not sufficient. China is seeking a new spirituality, he says
South China Morning Post
By LAURENCE BRAHM

I met His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in a Tibetan monastery near Buddha's Bodhi tree in India,
where he had been leading prayers for world peace. In a private meeting, the exiled Tibetan
spiritual leader expounded on the reasons for his olive-branch gesture to the Chinese government.

The Dalai Lama greeted me at the entrance of his reception chamber, rather than waiting inside. He
seemed anxious to talk and keen to know about the latest infrastructure in Tibet , specifically
roads, and economic conditions. Having filmed many remote regions throughout Tibet, I was able to
present a clear picture of what I had seen.

He then spoke, clearly with compassion: "This is the message I wish to deliver to China. I am not
in favour of separation. Tibet is a part of the People's Republic of China. It is an autonomous
region of the People's Republic of China. Tibetan culture and Buddhism are part of Chinese
culture. Many young Chinese like Tibetan culture as a tradition of China."

I was taken aback. The Dalai Lama's clear reference to the Chinese government and Tibet being an
autonomous region of China was tantamount to recognition of the Chinese Communist Party's rule and
acceptance of Tibet's current status. I asked for clarification.

The Dalai Lama then explained his position. "As the material development of China moves forward we
gain materially, like the railway. If we were a separate country it would be very difficult and we
would not benefit," he said.

The Tibetan government-in-exile has many factions. Moderates seek a solution and accommodation
with Beijing, while radicals oppose compromise.

The Dalai Lama explained: "The Tibetan youth organisation criticises me as taking this approach
out of desperation."

He shook his head. "No, it comes out of a broader interest."

He pointed to Europe as an example of such interest. "In the European Union each [country] carries
self-interest but what is more important is common interest. It is more important than individual
sovereignty," he said. "Currency is the most potent symbol of individual sovereignty but they are
willing to give it up to dissolve into common interest.

"Tibet is underdeveloped and materially backwards. We want modernisation. So for our own interest,
we are willing to be part of the People's Republic of China, to have it govern and guarantee to
preserve our Tibetan culture, spirituality and our environment. But we can contribute to the
spiritual side of China," he said, indicating knowledge of the Chinese Communist Party's search
for new identity. "China will turn to its 5,000-year history of tradition, of which Tibet is a
part.

"China seeks a new ideology. Marxism succeeded and worked for two decades. Then it became
confused. This is because class struggle fostered hatred. Our teaching is non-violence. Now, the
market ideology of capitalism fails to build meaningful society. Cultural heritage is easily
destroyed. The CCP feels now that people must have money and this will give the party credibility.
It must learn from the US and Europe that money alone does not fulfil human beings."

The Dalai Lama's words could have been those delivered by President Hu Jintao discussing the CCP's
crisis of ideology and the need to promote spirituality to balance China's newly embraced
materialism. Suddenly, I realised the gaps are really not so wide.

"China is an ancient nation," the spiritual leader spoke passionately. "Money is not sufficient.
China is seeking a new spirituality. Tibetan Buddhism is our own culture, one part of our own
culture." In saying "our own" I realised he was including himself within China.

"They [the CCP] find it easier to accept [Buddhism] rather than western religions like
Christianity. With Buddhism in the spiritual field we can help with internal values, while the
Chinese provide external values, and both will have mutual benefit. They will understand our
centuries-old culture is rich. They will then respect Tibetan culture more and understand what we
mean in our demand for meaningful autonomy."

The Dalai Lama apparently now sought only autonomy in guiding policies on religious and cultural
matters, not political, economic or diplomatic affairs, an official of the government-in-exile
later said.

I asked the Dalai Lama whether he was interested in visiting China. He replied: "It is in China's
interest ... As long as I am there I can make Tibetans calm. If I am not there, I do not know what
will come. The Chinese government should use common sense rationally, not look at things with
narrow perspective."

The Dalai Lama seemed disillusioned with developments in the west. He condemned unilateralist
"warfare, exploitation, science and technology used for killing, expanding imperialism and
colonialism and discrimination", but recognised the importance of democracy and the rule of law.

Laurence Brahm, filmmaker, author, lawyer-economist and Post columnist, is the only person known
to have met both the Dalai and the Panchen lamas. His independent neutral capacity has given him
unprecedented access to both sides.

Dalai's change of heart

1959-1979: Dalai Lama has no contact with Beijing.

1979-1980: He sends three fact-finding delegations to Tibet.

February 1983: Dalai Lama expresses a desire to visit Tibet. There is little progress. He begins
to speak out internationally on the issue.

September 21, 1987, in an address to US Congress Human Rights Caucus, he proposes: "Transformation
of the whole of Tibet into a zone of peace ... Commencement of earnest negotiations on the future
status of Tibet and of relations between the Tibetan and Chinese peoples."

June 15, 1988, in a "Five-Point Peace Plan" submitted to the European Parliament: "The whole of
Tibet known as Cholka-Sum [including Qinghai and sections of Sichuan , Yunnan and Gansu provinces]
should become a self-governing democratic political entity ... The PRC could remain responsible
for Tibet's foreign policy. The government of Tibet should, however, develop and maintain
relations, through its own Foreign Affairs Bureau, in the fields of religion, commerce, education,
culture, tourism, science, sports and other non-political activities ... the government of Tibet
will have the right to decide on all affairs relating to Tibet and the Tibetans."

June 1993, in a letter to Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin : "If China wants Tibet to stay with
China, then it must create the necessary conditions for this."

October 23, 1996, in a speech to the European Parliament: "I am striving for a genuine
self-government for Tibet."

March 10, 1999, the 40th anniversary of 1959 uprising: "The root of the Tibetan issue lies in
Tibet's long, separate history, distinct and ancient culture and unique identity ... A just and
fair solution on the Tibet issue will enable me to give full assurance that I will use my moral
authority to persuade Tibetans not to seek separation."

July 2000, in Time magazine: "We don't want complete independence. Beijing can manage the economy
and foreign policy, but genuine Tibetan self-rule is the best way to preserve our culture."

October 2004, in Time interview: "So if we remain in China, we might get a greater benefit,
provided it respects our culture and beautiful environment and gives us some kind of guarantee."

December 2004, in Newsweek: "Time is running out. We need some sort of action to protect the
Tibetan culture and environment. For the foreseeable future our only possibility is within the
Chinese constitutional framework ... Many Tibetans - particularly the younger generation - want to
modernise Tibet. It would be difficult for Tibetans to achieve this alone. Within the PRC, it
would be much faster."

January 26, 2005, speaking to Laurence Brahm: "We are willing to be part of the People's Republic
of China, to have the PRC govern and guarantee to preserve our Tibetan culture, spirituality, and
environment."



Dalai Lama yields ground on Tibet self-rule (SCMP)

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South China Morning Post
March 14, 2005

We will accept China's authority if it preserves our culture, he says

The Dalai Lama has extended an olive branch to Beijing in a bid to resolve the decades-old
political conflict over Tibetan independence.

The exiled spiritual leader appears to have given up any demand for Tibetan self-governance and is
willing to accept Chinese rule so long as Tibet's culture, spirituality and environment are
preserved.

In an interview published exclusively in the South China Morning Post today, the Dalai Lama
indicates he is relinquishing his half-a-century struggle for Tibet's sovereignty in order to
realise what he calls "broader interest" to allow his people to savour the success of China's
rapid economic growth and accomplishments.

"We want modernisation. So for our own interest, we are willing to be part of the People's
Republic of China, to have the PRC govern and guarantee to preserve our Tibetan culture,
spirituality and our environment," he said.

The Dalai Lama said that by dropping the sovereignty claim for Tibet, his people would be able to
benefit from China's economic achievements. This was in stark contrast to his previous stand, that
Tibet should be a self-governing domestic and political entity under a type of "one country, two
systems" arrangement.

"This is the message I wish to deliver to China," he said. "I am not in favour of separation.
Tibet is a part of the People's Republic of China. It is an autonomous region of the People's
Republic of China. Tibetan culture and Buddhism are part of Chinese culture."

The Dalai Lama's clear reference to the Chinese government, and Tibet being one of its autonomous
regions, was tantamount to recognition of the Chinese Communist Party's rule and acceptance of
Tibet's current status. His comments indicate he now seeks autonomy only on religious and cultural
matters and not political, economic or diplomatic affairs.

The 69-year-old spiritual leader expressed hope that Tibet could help develop China's "internal
values" in the spiritual field through Buddhism, while the central government could expand
"external values" through materialistic development such as economic and political governance. He
denied his apparent climbdown came out of desperation, and stressed that "it comes out of broader
interest".

He pointed to Europe as an example of such broader interest. "In the European Union, each
[country] carries self-interest but what is more important is common interest. It is more
important than individual sovereignty. Currency is the most potent symbol of individual
sovereignty, but they are willing to give it up to dissolve into the common interest."

However, the Dalai Lama's change of heart has raised concerns of a growing rift between the
moderates and the radicals within the government-in-exile, based in Dharamsala in northern India.

The Chinese government has insisted that the Dalai Lama, who fled in 1959 after a failed uprising
against Beijing, must accept that Tibet is an integral part of China and abandon his sovereignty
fight. In recent years, the Dalai Lama has been increasingly accommodating in his political
maneuverings, pursuing a "middle way" that would ensure autonomy rather than independence and
leave China in control of Tibet's foreign policy.

Meanwhile, in an unprecedented interview with Post columnist Laurence Brahm, the
Beijing-recognised 11th Panchen Lama sent a message of harmony, calling on Tibetans overseas to
contribute to their homeland's economic development.

The teenage religious leader, who is rarely seen in public, said: "I wish Tibetan people here and
living abroad to love their country and home town, and put their efforts into economic development
to raise living standards and development in their homeland."

Both lamas were disillusioned with developments in the west, pointing out the limitations
materialism has in satisfying humanity, and the need for more spirituality.

The calls by both religious leaders could serve to create a rare window of opportunity for true
dialogue to take place and speed up negotiations to pave the way for the homecoming of exiled
Tibetans in the near future, analysts believe.

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Panchen Lama sends subtle message (SCMP)

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South China Morning Post
March 14, 2005
by LAURENCE BRAHM

The 11th Panchen Lama divides his time between Beijing and his home at the Tashilumpo Monastery in
central-western Tibet , where he meditates for world peace every day.

Before meeting the Panchen Lama in a temple hall, his teacher Lama Tsering, who is more than 80
years old, grasped my hands and whispered: "This meeting is very important to us all because you
are the first foreigner to meet His Holiness. This is the first time."

I later learned this was also the first time the Panchen Lama had ever granted a filmed interview.
Even official Chinese media have not had this opportunity.

Apart from Tibetan (spoken with a strong Shigatse accent), the 14-year-old lama speaks Putonghua
and, to my surprise, perfect American-accented English. As we began filming the interview, in a
room lit with yak butter candles, the Panchen Lama on a dais attended by retainers, me sitting
below, I thought about a similar scene in the movie Seven Years in Tibet, depicting the teenage
Dalai Lama's first meeting with a foreigner.

The Panchen Lama seemed both enthused and amused that I was travelling across western Tibet
filming locations described in the Shambhala Sutra. "Originally, the Shambhala concept came from
India where the first Buddha, Shakyamuni, was born," he said. "Many people thought of it as a
dimension. In Tibetan history, many famous Buddhist scholars, including my predecessors the first,
sixth and ninth Panchen Lamas, spoke and wrote about Shambhala, describing the location as a
harmonious place."

He then offered a word of both caution and advice: "It is hard to say if each person can reach
Shambhala. It depends on determination and study. If you think positively you can reach there."

Then, in metaphysical images, he explained: "In the Shambhala dimension, the king of Shambhala
must use positive energy to destroy evil caused by negative energy, so the environment can be
protected, people can live longer, Buddhist ideals will flourish, and there will be peace and
harmony among humanity."

The Panchen Lama then turned the interview around, asking me many questions ranging from religious
tolerance and intolerance in the west, to concerns about international events.

I could not imagine that he was only 14 years old. It felt as though I were speaking to a mature
adult, a potential religious and possible political leader, immensely concerned with international
current events. I asked him: "Your Holiness, given the situation today, how can the Shambhala
ideal be applied for peace on Earth? What should we do?"

He replied: "Firstly, use compassion to help others, even at your own loss. Then there will be
peace. If you are selfish and achieve for yourself at loss to others, then the world will have no
peace.

"In my own opinion, many countries spend much money to buy arms and weapons of mass destruction.
By doing so, these countries will gain power for their country, but it will bring harm to the
world. This expense is very large and tremendous. If these countries used this money to help the
less-developed countries and nationalities, if this money went to disabled people and students,
and to buy medical facilities and promote medical research then there would be peace. But by
spending the money on arms, it is a waste, like throwing money into a vast sea.

"I wish the world may enjoy peace and that people love and respect each other. May there be
tolerance among different religions and beliefs.

"Secondly, I wish Tibetan people here and living abroad love their country and home town, and put
their efforts into economic development to raise living standards and development in their
homeland."

He then, almost as an afterthought, clasped his hands together in prayer, delivering his last
message: "In the end I will pray in English for the world. I pray for peace in the world. May
Buddha bless [all] human beings."

Leaving the Panchen Lama, I was struck by the teenage "living Buddha" who at 14 is consumed with
concern about world peace. He also astutely used the meeting to send a subtle message to overseas
Tibetans: put down past differences and strengthen Tibet's economy for its broader interest.
Moreover, he had given me the task to deliver this message; but to whom? I could think of only one
person.




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