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Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008

Dalai Lama admits his approach to Tibet greater autonomy has failed

Staff writer

The Dalai Lama said Monday that his approach to Tibet's greater autonomy has so far failed, and that Tibetans should decide for themselves the future direction the region should take.

"My trust in the Chinese government has become thinner, thinner, thinner," he said.

Speaking to a packed room at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan during his weeklong stay in Japan, the Tibetan spiritual leader spoke on topics ranging from politics to ecology, while entertaining an enthusiastic audience with his signature wit and charm.

The Dalai Lama commented on how criticism from within Tibet is increasing regarding the approach he has taken so far in seeking autonomy, and thus he had no alternative than to ask the people what to do next.

"I have to accept failure," the Dalai Lama said. "The whole world knows that the Dalai Lama is not seeking independence, except for the Chinese government," he said, stressing that to preserve Tibet's cultural heritage, autonomy is still the only logical strategy.

"I think those communists should have a more spiritual mind, then things will become easier," he joked.

Although the Dalai Lama did not elaborate on the details involved in the planned meeting slated for later this month in India's Dharamsala, where envoys from Tibetan communities will meet to decide Tibet's approach in a dialogue with China, he did make clear his intention to hand his powers to a democratically elected government in exile.

He said he couldn't "take on this responsibility forever."

"At this moment, I will remain completely neutral," the Dalai Lama said about the upcoming meeting, explaining that anything he says publicly regarding Tibet's future path may hinder the democratic process of the Tibetan people in deciding their fate.

On other matters, he voiced words of caution about the effect global warming is having on Tibet, the highest region on Earth, with an average elevation of 4,900 meters.

He warned that an ecological disaster will not only hurt Tibet's 6 million people but will have repercussions across Asia, effecting the well-being of 1 billion people.

"As the 'roof of the world,' we need special protection," the Dalai Lama said.

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The Japan Times

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