Wisdom Loving Mother

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Appeal to the Chinese People

*An Appeal to the Chinese People*
*from His Holiness the 14^th Dalai Lama*

Today, I extend heartfelt greetings to my Chinese brothers and sisters
round the world, particularly to those in the People's Republic of
China. In the light of the recent developments in Tibet, I would like to
share with you my thoughts concerning relations between the Tibetan and
Chinese peoples, and to make a personal appeal to you all.

I am deeply saddened by the loss of life in the recent tragic events in
Tibet. I am aware that some Chinese have also died. I feel for the
victims and their families and pray for them. The recent unrest has
clearly demonstrated the gravity of the situation in Tibet and the
urgent need to seek a peaceful and mutually beneficial solution through
dialogue. Even at this juncture I have expressed my willingness to the
Chinese authorities to work together to bring about peace and stability.

Chinese brothers and sisters, I assure you I have no desire to seek
Tibet's separation. Nor do I have any wish to drive a wedge between the
Tibetan and Chinese peoples. On the contrary my commitment has always
been to find a genuine solution to the problem of Tibet that ensures the
long-term interests of both Chinese and Tibetans. My primary concern, as
I have repeated time and again, is to ensure the survival of the Tibetan
people's distinctive culture, language and identity. As a simple monk
who strives to live his daily life according to Buddhist precepts, I
assure you of the sincerity of my motivation.

I have appealed to the leadership of the PRC to clearly understand my
position and work to resolve these problems by "seeking truth from
facts." I urge the Chinese leadership to exercise wisdom and to initiate
a meaningful dialogue with the Tibetan people. I also appeal to them to
make sincere efforts to contribute to the stability and harmony of the
PRC and avoid creating rifts between the nationalities. The state
media's portrayal of the recent events in Tibet, using deceit and
distorted images, could sow the seeds of racial tension with
unpredictable long-­term consequences. This is of grave concern to me.
Similarly, despite my repeated support for the Beijing Olympics, the
Chinese authorities, with the intention of creating rift between the
Chinese people and myself, assert that I am trying to sabotage the
games. I am encouraged, however, that several Chinese intellectuals and
scholars have also expressed their strong concern about the Chinese
leadership's actions and the potential for adverse long-term
consequences, particularly on relations among different nationalities.

Since ancient times, Tibetan and Chinese peoples have lived as
neighbors. In the two thousand year-old recorded history of our peoples,
we have at times developed friendly relations, even entering into
matrimonial alliances, while at other times we fought each other.
However, since Buddhism flourished in China first before it arrived in
Tibet from India, we Tibetans have historically accorded the Chinese
people the respect and affection due to elder Dharma brothers and
sisters. This is something well known to members of the Chinese
community living outside China, some of whom have attended my Buddhist
lectures, as well as pilgrims from mainland China, whom I have had the
privilege to meet. I take heart from these meetings and feel they may
contribute to a better understanding between our two peoples.

The twentieth century witnessed enormous changes in many parts of the
world and Tibet, too, was caught up in this turbulence. Soon after the
founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the People's
Liberation Army entered Tibet finally resulting in the 17-Point
Agreement concluded between China and Tibet in May 1951. When I was in
Beijing in 1954-55, attending the National People's Congress, I had the
opportunity to meet and develop a personal friendship with many senior
leaders, including Chairman Mao himself. In fact, Chairman Mao gave me
advice on numerous issues, as well as personal assurances with regard to
the future of Tibet. Encouraged by these assurances, and inspired by the
dedication of many of China's revolutionary leaders of the time, I
returned to Tibet full of confidence and optimism. Some Tibetan members
of the Communist Party also had such a hope. After my return to Lhasa, I
made every possible effort to seek genuine autonomy for Tibet within the
family of the People's Republic of China (PRC). I believed that this
would best serve the long-term interests of both the Tibetan and Chinese

Unfortunately, tensions, which began to escalate in Tibet from around
1956, eventually led to the peaceful uprising of March 10, 1959, in
Lhasa and my eventual escape into exile. Although many positive
developments have taken place in Tibet under the PRC's rule, these
developments, as the previous Panchen Lama pointed out in January 1989,
were overshadowed by immense suffering and extensive destruction.
Tibetans were compelled to live in a state of constant fear, while the
Chinese government remained suspicious of them. However, instead of
cultivating enmity towards the Chinese leaders responsible for the
ruthless suppression of the Tibetan people, I prayed for them to become
friends, which I expressed in the following lines in a prayer I composed
in 1960, a year after I arrived in India: "May they attain the wisdom
eye discerning right and wrong, And may they abide in the glory of
friendship and love." Many Tibetans, school children among them, recite
these lines in their daily prayers.

In 1974, following serious discussions with my Kashag (cabinet), as well
as the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker of the then Assembly of the
Tibetan People's Deputies, we decided to find a Middle Way that would
seek not to separate Tibet from China, but would facilitate the peaceful
development of Tibet. Although we had no contact at the time with the
PRC - which was in the midst of the Cultural Revolution - we had already
recognized that sooner or later, we would have to resolve the question
of Tibet through negotiations. We also acknowledged that, at least with
regard to modernization and economic development, it would greatly
benefit Tibet if it remained within the PRC. Although Tibet has a rich
and ancient cultural heritage, it is materially undeveloped.

Situated on the roof of the world, Tibet is the source of many of Asia's
major rivers, therefore, protection of the environment on the Tibetan
plateau is of supreme importance. Since our utmost concern is to
safeguard Tibetan Buddhist culture - rooted as it is in the values of
universal compassion - as well as the Tibetan language and the unique
Tibetan identity, we have worked whole-heartedly towards achieving
meaningful self-rule for all Tibetans. The PRC's constitution provides
the right for nationalities such as the Tibetans to do this.

In 1979, the then Chinese paramount leader, Deng Xiaoping assured my
personal emissary that "except for the independence of Tibet, all other
questions can be negotiated." Since we had already formulated our
approach to seeking a solution to the Tibetan issue within the
constitution of the PRC, we found ourselves well placed to respond to
this new opportunity. My representatives met many times with officials
of the PRC. Since renewing our contacts in 2002, we have had six rounds
of talks. However, on the fundamental issue, there has been no concrete
result at all. Nevertheless, as I have declared many times, I remain
firmly committed to the Middle Way approach and reiterate here my
willingness to continue to pursue the process of dialogue.

This year the Chinese people are proudly and eagerly awaiting the
opening of the Olympic Games. I have, from the start, supported
Beijing's being awarded the opportunity to host the Games. My position
remains unchanged. China has the world's largest population, a long
history and an extremely rich civilization. Today, due to her impressive
economic progress, she is emerging as a great power. This is certainly
to be welcomed. But China also needs to earn the respect and esteem of
the global community through the establishment of an open and harmonious
society based on the principles of transparency, freedom, and the rule
of law. For example, to this day victims of the Tiananmen Square tragedy
that adversely affected the lives of so many Chinese citizens have
received neither just redress nor any official response. Similarly, when
thousands of ordinary Chinese in rural areas suffer injustice at the
hands of exploitative and corrupt local officials, their legitimate
complaints are either ignored or met with aggression. I express these
concerns both as a fellow human being and as someone who is prepared to
consider himself a member of the large family that is the People's
Republic of China. In this respect, I appreciate and support President
Hu Jintao's policy of creating a "harmonious society", but this can only
arise on the basis of mutual trust and an atmosphere of freedom,
including freedom of speech and the rule of law. I strongly believe that
if these values are embraced, many important problems relating to
minority nationalities can be resolved, such as the issue of Tibet, as
well as Eastern Turkistan, and Inner Mongolia, where the native people
now constitute only 20% of a total population of 24 million.

I had hoped President Hu Jintao's recent statement that the stability
and safety of Tibet concerns the stability and safety of the country
might herald the dawning of a new era for the resolution of the problem
of Tibet. It is unfortunate that despite my sincere efforts not to
separate Tibet from China, the leaders of the PRC continue to accuse me
of being a "separatist". Similarly, when Tibetans in Lhasa and many
other areas spontaneously protested to express their deep-rooted
resentment, the Chinese authorities immediately accused me of having
orchestrated their demonstrations. I have called for a thorough
investigation by a respected body to look into this allegation.

Chinese brothers and sisters - wherever you may be - with deep concern I
appeal to you to help dispel the misunderstandings between our two
communities. Moreover, I appeal to you to help us find a peaceful,
lasting solution to the problem of Tibet through dialogue in the spirit
of understanding and accommodation.

With my prayers,

Dalai Lama

March 28, 2008


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