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Dalai Lama: be firm when dealing with China

Published on 02/12/2008
2 December 2008
PRAGUE – Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, called on the world Monday to stand firm when dealing with China, while recognising that the Asian economic giant could not be ignored.
"I’m always telling my friends that a good, a close relationship with a huge country like China is very essential, and not only for the economy," he said at a press conference during a private visit in Prague.
"But in the meantime, there are principles, like freedom of expression, human rights, democracy… for which you have to stand firm. Genuine friendship leaves a space to be firm, and at the end the other does appreciate (that)," he added.
He mentioned in particular German Chancellor Angela Merkel as a person who "is quite tough and she is good”.
"If you act like a ‘Yes minister,’ whatever the other is doing, even something wrong, then the other thinks it is OK," he said, stressing it was "important to point at others’ mistakes”.
"That is genuine friendship, but sometimes for totalitarian people it is difficult to understand those things," added the Dalai Lama, who with other Nobel Peace laureates will attend a ceremony in northern Gdansk marking 25 years since Solidarity icon Lech Walesa was awarded that honour.
During the visit to Prague, the Dalai Lama met former Czech President Vaclav Havel, his friend for a long time, as well as Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek.
Havel said the Tibet situation required "patience, endurance but also some vigilance, because certain irreversible things are happening, such as the transfers of Chinese people to Tibet."
Topolanek, who will become the European Union’s president-in-office on 1 January when his country takes over the EU’s rotating presidency, expressed his sympathies for Tibet in the past for instance by wearing a badge with the Tibetan flag before the Beijing Olympics.
Last Wednesday, China decided to scrap a summit with the European Union in France, in response to French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plan to meet the Dalai Lama in Poland on Saturday.
The Dalai Lama did not elaborate on the European Union’s progress in dealing with the issue of Tibet. "I do not know, it should be evaluated," he said.
Concerning his own strategy, the Dalai Lama pointed out that a recent gathering of Tibetan exiles in India had declined to take a tougher stance towards China and decided to back the "middle way" of talks with China.
But he warned his "faith towards the Chinese government is thinner and thinner and thinner".
The 73-year-old has been a mainstay on the diplomatic stage ever since he fled his native land that was absorbed into communist China for neighbouring India in 1959.
Still based in northern India, the Dalai Lama has increasingly been in the spotlight since protests in Tibet turned violent in March this year, just months before the Chinese hosted the Summer Olympic Games.
He is reviled by the Chinese government, which has branded him a "monster" and accused him of trying to split the nation.
[AFP / Expatica]