Dalai Lama: "Tibet is a Part of the People's Republic of China"

March 15, 2005

The Dalai Lama has made what may be his strongest public statement to date accepting that Tibet is a part of China. "This is the message I wish to deliver to China. I am not in favor of separation. Tibet is a part of the People's Republic of China. It is an autonomous region of the People's Republic of China. Tibetan culture and Buddhism are part of Chinese culture. Many young Chinese like Tibetan culture as a tradition of China." The South China Morning Post published the interview, which took place in Bodh Gaya, the birthplace of Buddhism, on March 14, 2005. Chinese officials have insisted that the Dalai Lama publicly acknowledged Tibet's status as a part of China before substantive talks commence.

The Tibetan spiritual leader explained that making the statement "comes out of a broader interest," not desperation. "Tibet is underdeveloped and materially backwards. We want modernization. So for our own interest, we are willing to be part of the People's Republic of China, to have it govern and guarantee to preserve our Tibetan culture, spirituality and our environment." The Dalai Lama emphasized that he, and Tibetan Buddhism, could "contribute to the spiritual side of China."