Carter Differs With Peking on Dalai Lama
Former President Jimmy Carter took issue with official Chinese policy Tuesday by saying he hopes that Beijing will allow the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, to live in Tibet once again.
“My own hope is that the Dalai Lama would be permitted to come and live where he chooses,” Carter told a press conference Tuesday at the end of a tour of China that included a two-day visit to Tibet.
The former President also said he had told Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping of his concern that China might move too many Han Chinese--those of the country’s ethnic majority--into Tibet and thus undermine Tibetan culture.
Chinese troops occupied Tibet in 1950, and the Dalai Lama fled from his palace in Lhasa in 1959 in the midst of an abortive Tibetan rebellion. He lives in exile in India.
China considers Tibet to be an autonomous region under Chinese sovereignty. In negotiations with emissaries of the Dalai Lama, Chinese authorities have suggested that he might be permitted to return to China if he renounces the cause of Tibetan independence.
However, China has not been willing to allow the Dalai Lama to live in Lhasa, the Tibetan capital. Instead, Chinese authorities have said that he should live in Beijing, about 1,500 miles away.
The Dalai Lama “can visit Tibet after having spent some time in China,” former Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaobang said a year ago.
Carter, who re-established formal diplomatic relations between the United States and China in 1979--emphasized the subject of Tibet at his news conference here in order to distance himself from articles in the official Chinese press about his trip to Lhasa.
On Sunday, the government-run New China News Agency published what it called an exclusive interview with the former President in which he seemed to lavish praise upon China’s treatment of Tibet and the Tibetan people.
Carter appeared to be embarrassed by the reports. He told reporters that he does not claim to be an expert on Tibet and acknowledged that he spoke with Tibetans only through a Chinese-government interpreter.