The President of the Tibetan government in exile, Penpa Tsering spoke exclusively to Republic TV on Saturday, and shed light on China's repressive actions against Tibetans, the reincarnation of the next Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government's relation with India.
Speaking of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's tweet greeting Dalai Lama on his 86th birthday, President Tsering said it sends out a clear message to China about Indian-Tibetan relations. He noted while PM Modi has extended greetings to the spiritual leader many times before, it was for the first time, that the greeting was made public.
"For us as Tibetans, we do not see anything new in PM Modi greeting His Holiness. But with technological advancement and changing modes of communication, I am sure there must be a reason behind PM making his tweet public, and if there is, I am sure the message will have gone across to China - where it was intended to go," said President Tsering in a bold statement.
Asked if PM Modi's meeting with Dalai Lama would be a natural coronary, given their good relations, the Tibetan President said, if there is a possible meeting between the two leaders, His Holiness will focus much more on is global responsibilities than just Tibet alone. "But if the Indian government brings Tibetan border on its agenda, I am sure there would be an option to discuss this," he added.
Speaking on the protests in China against Tibetans celebrating Dalai Lama's birthday this month, Tsering said, on one hand, China shows that it is concerned about the reincarnation of the 15th Dalai lama, at the same time, they disregard the living Dalai lama.
"They care more about the unborn Dalai Lama than the current one who is alive. So it's quite a paradox," he said.
President Tsering also mentioned that the Chinese government has been using repressive measures and interfering in Tibetan affairs. All the policies and programs of the Chinese govt are aimed at eradicating the Tibetan national identity - which includes language, culture, way of life and the environment, he said.
"As for Tibet, the reality of the situation continues to be the same. The crisis continues within Tibet. For example, the issue of the Tibetan language has been reduced to just one language class in all Tibetan schools. China claims they have a dual-language system but they have been imposing Mandarin on Tibetans. If you do not study Mandarin, you do not get jobs.
All the official languages are in Mandarin. Not just in Tibet, which is an occupied territory, but they have started teaching Mandarin to all the neighbouring countries that border with China," Tsering noted.
The Tibetan President further stated that while Chinese leadership does not believe in idol worship, the government has been putting as many posters of its President Xi Jinping as possible so that he is respected and revered as a spiritual leader.
Tsering said the Chinese leadership talks about harmony in the various nationalities - whether it is the Han Chinese or the Tibetans or the Uyghurs among all. "On one hand they talk about harmony within the nation, with neighbours and with international relations but on the other hand, what they actually implement is always on the contrary. Their words and actions do not meet," he said.
If they are really sincere about creating a global harmonious society, they have to lead by example, by creating better relations with neighbouring countries including India or its neighbours in the South China Sea or East China with Japan or Taiwan, or even its relation with the US or Europe, said Tsering.
He also noted that China has taken development to great heights in Tibet and other regions thinking that it can resolve all the issues. But they fail to realise the real aspirations of the people which is to preserve their national identity. It is the responsibility of the ruler to do that.
"If you consider India, there is a vast diversity of language and culture but you can still live in peaceful harmony. Whereas China tries to impose communism on everything. When they talk about Buddhism with Chinese characteristics, it includes all things that they want. For example, they want the power to recognise the reincarnation of Lamas. If they do not believe in life after death, how can they recognise the incarnated Lamas," Tsering asked.
President Tsering said China's beliefs do not incline with those of Tibetans and they have no authority to pick the next Dalai Lama. Yet, they have been trying to control His reincarnation for political purposes. He also declared that Tibetans will not respect China's choice of the 15th Dalai Lama.
"China knows it wants to use the successor of Dalai Lama for political purposes. His Holiness also says that if China is really concerned about the reincarnation of the Lama, they should first look for the incarnation of Mao Zedong, then maybe the Dalai Lamas. On an authority that does not justify with reason, there is no way to move forward. They might try to impose their Dalai Lama on the Tibetans. Just as the recognition issue of China's Panchen Lama, nobody would respect its choice," said Tsering.