January 17, 2007
Speaking in Kolkata, the Dalai Lama called for improved relations between China and India. Calling himself India's "longest guest" (he's fast approaching the 50-year mark) the DL said friendship between India and China would benefit not only the nations themselves and the rest of Asia, but the entire world.
China and India are important trading partners, but are engaged in a long bitter struggle to fix their mutual border. Chinese Vice-Foreign Minister and Special Representative Dai Bingguo, in New Delhi to discuss the border issue, met with protests from the Tibetan Youth Congress. The Silk Road pass of Nathu La was recently opened, which some thought would herald a warming in relations. But this thaw has yet to come, unless you consider, as The Christian Science Monitor reported, that as trade with China increased, India's interest in a free Tibet has steadily faded.
While advocating peaceful relations between the two Asian powers, the DL also said, "For meaningful autonomy in Tibet, its population should remain largely Tibetan," criticizing the Sino-ization of the autonomous region, and played down the controversy over his successor, saying it is not the man that matters, but Tibet itself. The Dalai Lama has previously said that Tibet's autonomy within China is the best safeguard of Tibetan culture. Of course, his autonomy within India is the best safeguard of his own well-being.
Philip Ryan, Webmaster