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China launches broadside against Dalai Lama
Says he’s more keen on politics than religious affairs
Ashok Tuteja writes from Lhasa

In one of its sharpest attacks on the Dalai Lama, China today described the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader as a “small figure” in the international community who was more interested in politics rather than religious affairs.

“He is an old lama who wears Gucci shoes and loves to travel all over the world… there are forces backing him in his activities,” Xie Ying, Deputy Director at the Information Office of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), told journalists from India and other countries on the occasion of the week-long Shoton (Yoghurt) Festival in Lhasa.

Xie did not name the forces which, Beijing believes, were backing the Dalai Lama but her statement came following US President Barack Obama’s meeting with the Tibetan leader in mid-July and the recent “appointment” of the Harvard-educated Lobsang Sangay as the new Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-exile.

The Chinese official also accused the Dalai Lama of misleading the world community about the situation in TAR, asserting that the province was on the path of an unprecedented prosperity in the coming years. “All attention is being paid to the development of TAR… we did not pay attention to spreading information about TAR earlier but now we want the world community to see for itself how TAR is progressing in a harmonious way.”

Another Chinese official, Duoji Ciren, Deputy Director of the Ethnic and Religious Committee of TAR, told the visiting journalists that the Dalai Lama had hurt the interests of the Tibetan people by indulging in “undesirable” political activities. “There have been different interpretations and understandings about the activities of the Dalai Lama in China and foreign countries… there is a need for conducting a research on the very title of the Dalai Lama.”

Duoji said the title was given to the 4th Dalai Lama by the Mongolian emperor. There was a clear difference between the activities of the Dalai Lamas of the past and the one in exile now.

Xie said efforts were under way to expand the railway network in TAR and start more international flights to Lhasa from different world capitals. Asked if there was any plan to launch a direct flight between India and Lhasa, she did not give any reply.

The region, she added, had a vast potential for promotion of tourism. In 2010, TAR hosted more than 2,20,000 tourists and the number was expected to increase this year. Many major infrastructure development schemes were also being launched in the region to expedite TAR’s integration with the mainstream of the Chinese society.

“Tibet is advancing smoothly in the course of reform and in all of its undertakings, and we have every reason to believe that TAR will have a better future with the combined efforts of all ethnic groups in Tibet and the help of the entire nation,” another Chinese official added.

However, there are many in Lhasa who believe that the Dalai Lama was a “nice man” whose activities should not cause any alarm in Beijing unnecessarily. However, the common Tibetans would not like to go on record about the activities of the Dalai Lama for obvious reasons.





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