Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama says China’s leaders “don’t understand the variety of different cultures” and that the ruling Communist Party’s penchant for tight social control can be harmful.
The 86-year-old Buddhist monk on Wednesday also said he wished to remain home in India, where he has lived since 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet, rather than get involved in the “complicated politics” between China, run by the officially atheist Communist Party, and strongly Buddhist Taiwan.
Speaking at an online press conference hosted by the Tokyo Foreign Correspondents Club, the Dalai Lama said there were no particular plans to meet with Chinese leader Xi Jinping and declined to comment on Xi’s plans to remain in office for a third five-year term.
“Chinese communist leaders, they do not understand the variety of different cultures,” he said. “In reality, too much control will harm people.”
China exercises rigid control over all religions and in recent years has stepped up a campaign of cultural assimilation targeting Tibetans, Turkic Muslim Uyghurs and other minority groups.
The Dalai Lama said he did not want to become involved in “local and political difficulties,” but was dedicated to making contributions to “brothers and sisters” in both Taiwan and mainland China. “This situation is quite complicated,” he said.
“Sometimes I really feel this simple Buddhist monk (does) not want to (become involved) in complicated politics,” he said, chuckling.
The Dalai Lama retired from politics in 2011 but remains a major force for the preservation of Tibetan traditions.
China castigates him as an advocate for Tibetan independence and has not had direct contacts with his representatives in more than a decade.
The Dalai Lama says he merely advocates for Tibet’s substantial autonomy and protection for its native Buddhist culture.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said the door to dialogue and engagement with the Dalai Lama “remains open”, but that Beijing would not discuss the status of Tibet.
“What the Dalai Lama side should do is give up its position on splitting China, stop its secessionist activities and take concrete actions to win the trust of the central government and the Chinese people,” Wang said at Wednesday’s daily briefing.