Author: Tejinder Singh
8 December 2008 - Issue : 811
A fter addressing an overflowing house of European Parliament December 4, the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, appeared at a joint press conference with Hans-Gert Poettering, the President of the only directly elected European institution, the European Parliament. Wit, humour, serenity and positive vibes were present in the packed environs of the Anna Politkovskaya European Parliament press room, named after the slain Russian journalist, as the Dalai Lama was at ease with international journalists.
Answering a question about economic crisis, the spiritual leader explained the ongoing market crisis around the world. Saying, “Market itself is a creation of human beings,” the Buddhist leader asked, “What is the real cause of this sort of economic crisis?” Citing answers from his business friends, the Dalai Lama told journalists: “Too much speculation and ultimately greed,” adding, “The pot - ential to help is: reduce greed and (increase) self-discipline. “Economic crisis is something urgent so it will be helpful to reduce some other conflict (that are going on) in the name of faith and nationality.”
Going down memory lane, the Dalai Lama listed the Khmer Rouge genocide in Cambodia, and Burma and North Korea as some of the instances that could not have happened or are still happening without China nodding its approval. Citing the “uncomfortable people of Hong Kong,” “reunification of Taiwan,” and the separatist factions in the southwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang as areas where such a moral authority should be displayed, the Buddhist leader insisted he only wants meaningful autonomy for Tibet under Chinese rule.
The leader from Tibet told journalists, “actually the whole world knows we are not separatists and also many Chinese writers and thinkers and many Chinese students if they have the opportunity to know the reality really support it and are in fact very critical of their government policy. “If Chinese government still accuse us of being splitists, we ourselves are confused. We are not ‘splittists,’ but the Chinese government still accuses us of being ‘splittists,’” he said.
China cancelled the annual EU-China Summit slated for December 1 when French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced he would meet the Dalai Lama in Poland. Sarkozy also represents the EU Presidency as France holds the rotating EU Presidency till the end of the year before handing it over to the Czech Republic for next six months.
When asked to comment on his meeting with Sarkozy, the Dalai Lama, with a cheerful smile said, “I have met the wife (Mrs. Sarkozy) and will be meeting the husband.” Praising the Chinese people for their diligence and perseverance and citing “manpower, economic and military power” as positive desired contributors for China to becomes “a superpower,” the Dalai Lama pointed out, “Now one important factor is moral authority and that is lacking. “Because of its very poor record on human rights and religious freedom and freedom of expression and freedom of the press — too much censorship — the image of China in the field of moral authority is very, very poor,” he said.
“The sensible Chinese realise China should now give more attention to this field to get more respectability in world affairs,” the Nobel peace laureate said, adding, “My faith in Chinese people has never shaken,” while the top echelons of Chinese leadership is divided into hard liners and soft approach advocates.
The Dalai Lama called the Chinese regime a “capitalist totalitarian regime,” and urged the importance of trust and transparency telling journalists, “trust is the key factor and for that transparency (is) really very much needed.” Calling upon the Chinese authorities to “adjust to new reality,” the Buddhist leader suggested that the Chinese authorities also can change to fit into the changing world scenario. Earlier, he addressed the European Parliament during his second day in the Belgian capital, where he was greeted by loud applause and Tibetan flags.
President Poettering, assured that the parliament would “continue to defend the rights of the Tibetan people to their cultural and religious identity.” He called on Chinese leaders to hold meaningful talks with representatives of the exiled Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India, and has sought “meaningful autonomy” for Tibet since he had to leave his homeland following a failed uprising in 1959 against Chinese rule, nine years after Chinese troops invaded the region. Ruled by China since the 18th Century, Tibet became independent in 1911, but the new Communist regime in China reasserted control in 1951, and installed a Communist government in 1953.
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