Dalai-Lama in Portugal: China must change

He declared that his first visit to Portugal had three objectives: to promote religious harmony, to promote human rights and as a Tibetan, to raise the issue of Tibet. The XIV Dalai-Lama, 66 years old, is the spiritual leader of Tibet’s Buddhist monks, being the reincarnation of the XIII Dalai-Lama.

He has declared on numerous occasions that he is not in favour of Tibet’s independence, but what he calls “genuine autonomy”. He added: “In our perspective, Tibet is a separate nation from China. For this reason, I use the word occupation”.

Regarding the People’s Republic of China, he described it as “a great nation in a process of change”, but with a “totalitarian system”. As for the future, “Sooner or later, China will have to follow the global trend in human rights, democracy and freedom of information”.

The Dalai-Lama considers that the world is becoming more peaceful, quoting the example of the two world wars in the twentieth century, which nations entered eagerly in a collective will to fight. That will is no longer there, he declared, saying that it is a pity that there is violence in Afghanistan but that at least the United States Armed Forces were committed to reducing civilian casualties to as near to zero as possible. Such was not the case in the two world wars and in Korea and Vietnam.

The Dalai-Lama said that the international community could help Tibet by brokering a deal between the PR China and his country, which will “have to meet each other half-way”. He is optimistic that in the next decades, international pressure and changes within China will see a Tibet as an autonomous region of China, with its own culture and identity but integrated in a united Chinese state.

A final message of solidarity with the world and optimism for the future from the Dalai-Lama: “Non-violence is growing everywhere”.