According to a senior Chinese official, Tibetans no longer have an interest in their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, or his politics.
“In Tibet when I asked people whether they would want the Dalai Lama back, they said they respect him culturally and in their religion but they don’t agree with his political ideology,” Cui Yuying, a vice minister of the Chinese State Council Information Office and ethnic Tibetan, told visiting Nepali and Indian journalists.
The political ideology that Cui is referring to is the Dalai Lama’s continuous campaign to achieve autonomy for Tibetans in China despite being in retirement. The Chinese government has accused the Buddhist monk of provoking violence in areas of China with a Tibetan population that have seen frequent self-immolations.
According to the English-language Nepalese newspaper Kathmandu Times, Cui, who has previously served as the head of the Communist Party’s publicity department in the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) of China, which includes a large part of historical Tibet, continued to say that while Tibetans still respect him, they mostly do so for his title, which “was conferred by the central government.”
Cui says that India supports China in that it opposes the Dalai Lama’s political agenda.
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“The Dalai lama has been living in India as a guest,” Cui was quoted saying in the Press Trust of India.
“The Indian government has said that it will not allow the Dalai Lama to indulge in any political activity. China has full confidence in it.”
Cui went on to say that exiled Tibetans are now being allowed back into the Chinese-controlled TAR “on an individual basis.”
Still, according to Tibet’s exiled government in Dharamsala, India, Tibetan refugees continue to sneak out of China through Nepal, joining a population of roughly 94,000 refugees who have found a home in India.
An estimate by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees’ Office in Nepal is that roughly 800 Tibetans sneak into India every year.
Sino-Indian relations were particularly tense in late April and earlier this month after reports that China’s People’s Liberation Army had a platoon of soldiers setting up camp in the Himalayan mountains, entering 12 miles (20 km) into Indian territory. The Chinese government responded by denying the incursion occurred, claiming that the soldiers remained on their side of the Line of Actual Control, the demarcation that separates the two countries.
The Chinese troops eventually withdrew from the area before the situation could escalate further.