The Dalai Lama said on Monday there were hopeful signs that China would push through political reforms in China and Tibet in order to avoid another “cultural revolution.”
However, the exiled Tibetan leader warned that there were still “worshipers of the gun” in Tibetan areas of China, where more than 30 protesters — many Buddhist monks and nuns — have set themselves alight since March last year.
“The same cultural revolution is returning that was the cause of a crisis in 2008, when several hundred people were killed or disappeared,” he said in Hawaii, where he spent the weekend before a trip to the US mainland.
“Now the time has come that the Chinese authority must investigate the causes” of Tibetan protests, the Dalai Lama said.
“The local [Chinese] authority [in Tibet] I think ... are worshipers of the gun, as Chairman Mao Zedong (毛澤東) once expressed that power comes from the barrel of the gun. Unfortunately some hardliners still believe that,” he said.
However, the Dalai Lama said he sees hopeful signs in statements last month by outgoing Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao (溫家寶) that China has no way forward but through economic and political structural reform.
Wen said on March 14 that China could see a repeat of the Cultural Revolution’s deadly chaos without “urgent” political reform, in a dramatic parting shot at his final news conference as premier.
“Without a successful political structural reform, it is impossible for us to fully institute economic structural reform and the gains we have made in this area may be lost,” Wen said.
The Dalai Lama said that Wen’s statement and an apparent crackdown on some government corruption indicate “that the majority of the Chinese leadership is thinking seriously of some change, and that is a hopeful thing.”
The exiled spiritual leader is due to fly to San Diego, California, this week, before visiting Los Angeles and Chicago. From there he will travel to Canada and on to Europe.