His Holiness the Dalai Lama Optimistic on Tibet from Global Perspective: Interview


May 11, 2009 4:48 pm

His Holiness the Dalai Lama Optimistic on Tibet from Global Perspective: InterviewMonday, 11 May 2009, 4:36 p.m.


–The following interview is conducted by Fareed Zakaria of CNN and was aired on Sunday, 10 May 2009FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: This is GPS, the GLOBAL PUBLIC SQUARE. Welcome to all of you in the United States and around the world. I’m Fareed Zakaria.Now
I’ve been sounding alarms about Afghanistan and especially Pakistan for
months. And Pakistan will be the main topic we discuss on the panel.
We’ve got a great one, an American, an Indian, a Pakistani.I
also will have an exclusive interview next week with someone who is
rarely heard from, Pervez Musharraf, the man who was Pakistan’s
president and head of its army until just last year.But there
are other things going on in the world and we thought we’d start this
week by turning to another fascinating global problem. Today I have a
very special guest, the 14th and current Dalai Lama.To
understand Tibet, you have to understand its history. Now bear with me
while I play history professor for just a moment. It all goes back to
Genghis Khan who captured Tibet in 1207. He brought Tibet together with
China under the Mongol empire. The Chinese have claimed an unbroken
line of control and sovereignty over Tibet ever since. The Tibetans
reject that claim, saying they have been an independent kingdom for
many period during that time, sometimes centuries at a time.Fast
forward to the 20th century. In 1912, Tibet declared itself an
independent republic but neither did China exercise any control over
Tibet, until 1950. That’s when chairman Mao Zedong sent the Red Army in
to liberate, as the Chinese saw it, the Tibetan people from the futile
serfdom they were living under. But the Tibetans saw the act as an
invasion.In 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama fled from China to India,
where he now lives. The Dalai Lama says all he really wants today is
autonomy for his people who are living under Chinese rule which he
accepts. The Chinese say what he really wants is to split China and
begin a process that will dismember the whole country.So you see this is no small family squabble. The conflict has important implications for the most populous country on earth.Let’s get started.

 
 His Holiness the Dalai Lama/TibetNet Photo

ZAKARIA:
Thank you for joining us, sir. What do you think could be Tibet’s
contribution to the world? You have sometimes spoken about how Tibetan
culture could be an example for the world of how to be less violent,
less conflictual. Do you really believe that there’s a way to reduce
the levels of violence and suffering through the world through a kind
of an inner search?TENZIN GYATSO, DALAI LAMA: I don’t
think anybody would say, I want violence. I don’t think these people
really say that. And then these people who are involved, like Bin
Laden, I don’t think when he was a child or his daily lifestyle, he
want now today, or I wish more violence. I don’t think.Out of
desperate, out of hatred, out of anger, out of frustration, violence
took place. So therefore, violence does not come from sky. Violence not
come from guns alone. Ultimately related with motivation, emotion. So
unless we tackle emotion, destructive emotion, we cannot stop violence.ZAKARIA: How do you tackle that?DALAI LAMA:
Now here, (with) the sense of concern of other beings, other human
beings, on the basis (that) other beings also part of humanity. So the
reality, we are all just one. So the very concept of “we” and “they, I
think I feel the concept of they is no longer relevant. We must
consider all six billion human beings as part of “we” and then whenever
a conflict different interests come first, we must realize and they’re
also part of humanity, they also have every right to overcome
suffering. So we must respect their right. And then with that,
dialogue, talk. I think if we — right from the beginning, if we sit
together with Bin Laden and listen to his grievance, I think that
things may be different.As a matter of fact, September 11th
event happened. The next day I wrote letter to President Bush because I
know Bush is a nice person. As a person, regardless of what his policy.
As a person, very nice.So I wrote a letter and expressed my
condolence and sadness and meanwhile I also expressed now this problem,
I wish (he) handle this problem more nonviolently.ZAKARIA:
You said last November that you thought your model of leadership had
failed, that you felt that you had failed as a leader of the Tibetan
people. You’ve spoken of China having thrown Tibet into a hell on
earth. Why do you think you’ve failed? What leads to see that you have
failed?DALAI LAMA: Well, I think I should say all my
responsibility, spiritual — I hope not failed, complete failed. But as
far as our dialogue with Chinese government is concerned, there also
some aspect — one aspect to make clear to Chinese people we are not
seeking separation. We are very much willing or committed to remain
within the People’s Republic of China. That’s our own interest, economy
development is concerned and it’s our sort of interest to remain a more
powerful nation, economically, provided, we also have some unique
cultural heritage, including our unique language, so every Tibetan
loves these things. And also I think from a wider perspective, I think
Tibetan cultural heritage is a compassionate cultural heritage,
peaceful cultural heritage. It’s something useful on this planet, where
there is lot of violence and too much competitions, or too much hatred
– these things. Tibetan cultural heritage, I think, very valuable. Of
course our country heritage mainly comes from India, based on Buddhism.
And so that I really feel not only myself but also many of our friends
also appreciate Tibetan peaceful cultural heritage. So that we must
preserve that.And long run, to the Chinese government — I mean
Chinese people also I think Tibetan culture heritage can serve them,
bring some meaning of life. Now, one aspect of my approach is bring
better situation, out of closer understanding with Chinese government,
inside Tibet. Now, that aspect completely failed. So I admit it. It is
my moral responsibility to admit failure.ZAKARIA: You call it what is going on inside Tibet today a cultural genocide?DALAI LAMA:
Yes, some kind of cultural genocide, whether intentionally or
unintentionally. The problem is, some of those Chinese communist hard
liners eye the unique Tibetan cultural heritage and Tibetan spirit,
they see that’s the source of threat of separation from mainland China.ZAKARIA: You have been in negotiations off and on with the Chinese government. Are those negotiations still going on?DALAI LAMA: No.ZAKARIA: Why have they ended?DALAI LAMA:
Now only thing is, the Chinese government insists there’s no problem –
in fact the Tibetan people are very, very happy. Now, if that is the
case, then our view is wrong. I made clear, when the time comes (for)
our return with certain degree of freedom, that means autonomy, then we
will return and all Dalai Lama’s legitimate authority will be handed
over to the local government.ZAKARIA: Through a Democratic process?DALAI LAMA: Oh!
that government, immediately I don’t know. That’s up to the Chinese
government. The totalitarian regime — one part of the democratic
practice, I think difficult, but hopefully even China as a whole. I
always believe the future of China, future of over a billion human
beings’ well-being I think very much related with open society, rule of
law, transparent. That’s everybody’s interest. The Chinese people
themselves also want that.So Hu Jintao’s emphasis or slogan,
harmonious society is very good. Harmony very much related with trust,
trust and fear cannot go together. So long Tibetan people there,
according to our information more than 90 percent Tibetan very unhappy,
and actually they are facing, usually sometimes I describe almost like
a Tibetan nation — an ancient nation with a unique cultural heritage
– now passing through something like a death sentence.So
Tibetan people I think generally, I think are quite proud people. So
when the Chinese say, oh, they came to help us. Then sometimes we feel
we don’t need to help. For a thousand years, we managed ourselves.ZAKARIA: Let me read to you something that Wen Jiabao said to me in a conversation we had.DALAI LAMA: Yes.ZAKARIA:
I asked him about — I said, the Dalai Lama said that he would accept
China’s rule in Tibet, he accepts the socialist system. What he asks
for is cultural autonomy and a certain degree of political autonomy. He
said, many people in the United States have no idea how big is the
so-called greater Tibetan region that the Dalai Lama wants. The greater
Tibetan region covers Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, Qinghai and Gansu.
Altogether five provinces and the area by the so-called Greater Tibetan
Region is a quarter of China’s territory. Is that your definition of
Tibet?DALAI LAMA: My definition of Tibet is those people
who speak Tibetan, who practice Tibetan culture, Buddhist culture. So
in order to carry the meaningful preservation of Tibetan culture, all
these Tibetans, including my own birthplace area, we must work together.ZAKARIA: Does it comprise these five areas?DALAI LAMA: Part
of Qinghai, part of Gansu, part of Yunnan, Sichuan, only parts where
Tibetan there. So some there, I think some among the Chinese also I
think some confusion.ZAKARIA: You’ve spoken in a tone of
almost despair about the state of Tibet and its people. Do you have
much hope that there will be progress towards resolving this issue?DALAI LAMA: Now,
when we look Tibet issue, locally, then hopeless. If we look at Tibetan
issue from wider perspective, I feel much hope because China is
changing. And more and more Chinese intellectuals now come to support
our struggle. And also the free world particularly in Europe and North
America. I think many people really showing genuine concern and as a
reflection of the public, media is very supportive and various
countries of parliament, a strong voice for Tibet and then at the
government level also, particularly like the United States. They are
showing genuine concern. And India also.And then, on the other
hand, the Tibetan spirit inside Tibet is oh! wonderful, very strong.
Unless, you see, Tibetan become an insignificant minority in our land,
then very difficult. I think some hard liner Chinese want to do that.
That’s almost like cleansing.ZAKARIA: To flood Tibet with Chinese so that the Tibetans become a minority?DALAI LAMA: That’s right. Like in Mongolia. Same autonomous region, same status of autonomous region.ZAKARIA: So this doesn’t sound very hopeful.DALAI LAMA:
But I don’t think world (will) let that happen. And also the Chinese
now unlike ’50s and ’60s and ’70s, now today world with modern
facility, the information, I don’t think that easily can happen.ZAKARIA: It
sounds as though you find it difficult to exist under a socialist
system. You’re quite critical of what — you’ve called it a
totalitarian state.DALAI LAMA: A social system.ZAKARIA: Yes. You’ve called it a totalitarian state. You’ve called it…DALAI LAMA: A
social system, I myself, (have) no question I’m socialist. Even more, I
often tell people in big gathering, in my public talks, as far as
socio-economy theory is concerned I am Marxist. Still I’m Marxist.ZAKARIA: But you don’t believe in a one-party state?DALAI LAMA: Not
a totalitarian. One party — I think a party with full democratic
principles, then even a one-party system is ok. But one party, always
hypocritic way, telling something, doing something. Now recent months
now — over one year, how much information come from Chinese media? So
many people laughing.ZAKARIA: Do you worry that after
you, there will be a greater demand for independence and violence? In
other words, that you have been the moderating force and that the
Tibetan community may go in a different direction?DALAI LAMA:
I have no worry. This is Tibetan issue. Tibetan people’s issue. Tibetan
nation issue. So (it is) upto them. I’m just serving or carrying their
wish. Should Chinese policy inside Tibet continue, then eventually I
have to ask people what to do. The Tibetan people are my boss.ZAKARIA:
How will your successor be chosen? Because the Chinese government, as
you know, claims that they have the right. There have been some reports
that you may try to preempt the situation by actually initiating the
process yourself.DALAI LAMA: I made very clear that
because of reincarnation – the purpose of reincarnation — is to carry
the task which started by previous life. So logically in case I die
outside, my some work not yet accomplished, so that my reincarnation
logically appear outside in free world, that’s clear.ZAKARIA: But do you think the next Dalai Lama must appear in the free world?DALAI LAMA: Yes,
I feel. Why not? Look (the) very purpose of reincarnation, not disturb
for previous life’s work — must follow previous life’s work, logically.ZAKARIA: Sir, thank you very much. You’ve been very kind with your time.DALAI LAMA: Thank you.