Dalai Lama defends travel plans

Tibetan spiritual leader chides China for criticising planned visit to area in India.

    The Dalai Lama plans to spend a week in Japan before making the trip to India's northeastern region [AFP]

    China has said it is "firmly opposed" to the Dalai Lama's trip to Arunachal Pradesh.

    "I was surprised" at China's criticism, the Dalai Lama said when asked about the motive behind his trip.

    "Because in [19]62, the People's Liberation Army already reached that area, already occupied ... then India sort of pushed them back. The Chinese government unilaterally [made] ceasefire, withdrawal,"  he said.

    "So what's the problem?"

    'Trouble maker'

    The Dalai Lama said he believed the Chinese government read too much political meaning into his frequent travels abroad.

    "The Chinese government considers me a troublemaker, so it is my duty to create more trouble," he quipped.

    "The Chinese government politicises too much wherever I go. Where I go is not political."

    Last month the Dalai Lama visited Taiwan, his third trip there, to bless the survivors of Typhoon Morakot, which left nearly 700 people dead after it hit the island on August 8.

    He visited disaster areas in southern Taiwan, comforted survivors and held a prayer meeting for typhoon victims attended by 15,000 people, according to his official website.

    Opposed to trip

    The Dalai Lama, who fled to India in 1959 after China crushed an anti-Chinese uprising in Tibet, is viewed as a "splittist" by Beijing, although he says he wants autonomy rather than full independence for his Himalayan homeland.

    "One reason why India is successful in democracy is ... that  [for] more than 2,000 years India [has had] this strong tradition to respect different views," the Dalai Lama said, stressing the importance of respecting different religions and the views of non-believers.

    The Dalai Lama did not shy away from criticising China, saying it lacks freedom and transparency, and is not trusted by its neighbours.

    He also criticised China's one-party state and lack of media freedom.

    'One-sided propaganda'

    "People in China [have] no free information, too much sensation. And their own newspaper, media - all their information is one-sided propaganda," he said.

    The Dalai Lama called for journalists from the international media to visit China to "find the reality" in the western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, home to the Tibetan and Uighur ethnic minorities, respectively.

    Tibetans attacked Chinese migrants and shops in the regional capital, Lhasa, and torched parts of the city's commercial district in anti-government riots in March 2008.

    Chinese officials say 22 people died, but Tibetans say many times that number were killed.

    The violence in Lhasa and protests in Tibetan communities across western China were the most sustained unrest in the region since the late 1980s.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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