Tibet's Spiritual Leader, the Dalai Lama, says that recent unrest in China's Xinjiang province shows the country's policies toward ethnic minorities have failed and he reaffirmed his position to seek autonomy for Tibet within the Peoples' Republic Of China and not to press for separation. The Dalai Lama is attending a two-day conference with over 100 Chinese and Tibetan scholars, writers, journalists, advocates and social workers. The meeting is exploring ways to achieve a peaceful solution to the contentious Tibetan issue.
The Dalai Lama is using this event, bringing together both Chinese and Tibetans , to highlight his determination to achieve a better future for his people and to criticize China's policy toward ethnic minorities. He says he seeks peace and reconciliation with China's political leaders.
The Dalai Lama says the recent riots in Xinjiang province shows the time has come for China to review the way it deals with all its ethnic minorities. Nearly 200 people were killed in July clashes between the ethnic Uighurs, who are mostly Muslim, and the majority Han Chinese.
China has always maintained that Tibet is part of its territory. The Dalai Lama says he is seeking autonomy, not independence for Tibet, and he acknowledges that decades of attempted peacemaking with China so far have ended in failure. But, he says he is not giving up. He warns of the dangers posed by grievances harbored by the Tibetan people against China for generations.
"Unless this crisis is dealt with realistically, properly, this resentment will grow generation and generation… So, therefore, there is crisis. It is in everybody's interest to find a realistic solution."
The Dalai Lama says Chinese society is changing and this is creating an opening for Tibet and for other minorities whose aspirations have been denied for so long. He says China is getting a middle class and the gap between rich and poor is widening. He says this could spell trouble for the government if it does not soften its position toward its minority populations.
He says China's heavy-handed response to peaceful demonstrations by Tibetans and other minority ethnic groups has only served to heighten the crisis and further alienate young people.
He acknowledges that some young people are becoming impatient and might want to use violent methods to achieve their aims. He councils against this and says his position remains firm that non-violence will in the end win out.
He appeals to the Chinese government to accept his position that Tibet seeks autonomy and not separation. And, says each entity would have specific duties within this arrangement.
"Foreign affairs, defense should be handled by the central government. Education, environment, religious matter-these the Tibetans themselves know better. So, therefore, they should have final authority there."
The Tibetan spiritual leader says his door is wide open for negotiations with the Chinese government. He says Tibetans are ready to continue their dialogue with China. He notes China, so far, has spurned this offer, but he is hopeful that this will change in the near future.