China is beset by a moral crisis, widespread corruption and lawlessness, leading millions of Chinese to seek solace in Buddhism, Tibet’s exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, said on Monday.
The Dalai Lama was in London to receive the US$1.7 million Templeton prize for his work affirming the spiritual dimension of life.
Speaking to reporters before the award ceremony at St Paul’s Cathedral in London, he said millions of young Chinese were showing an interest in spirituality.
“Look at China now, the moral crisis, corruption — immense,” he said, adding that China had “no proper rule of law.”
A survey two years ago found that 200 million Chinese followed Buddhism, including many who followed Tibetan Buddhism, he said.
“Tibetan Buddhist culture I think [is of] immense benefit to millions of Chinese who are really passing through a difficult period like that,” he said.
China has ruled Tibet since 1950, when Communist troops occupied the country. The Dalai Lama escaped to live in exile in India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
The Dalai Lama, who won the Nobel peace prize in 1989, said he would donate US$1.5 million of the Templeton prize money to support British charity Save the Children’s work to combat malnutrition among children in India. The rest will go to scientific causes.
He met British Prime Minister David Cameron later on Monday, drawing fire from Beijing, which called the meeting an “affront to the Chinese people.”
“This is a serious interference in China’s internal affairs and an affront to the Chinese people, undermining China-UK relations,” ministry spokesman Hong Lei (洪磊) said.
He added that Beijing had officially protested the meeting in London and with the British embassy in Beijing.
China has in the past strongly objected when the Dalai Lama has met Western leaders.
The meeting with Cameron and British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was described as “private” and was not held at the prime minister’s Downing Street residence.
Beijing has repeatedly accused the Dalai Lama of encouraging Tibetan protests against Chinese rule, which have intensified in recent months.
At least 32 Tibetans have set themselves on fire, mostly in southwestern China, since March last year to protest against Chinese rule in Tibet, according to Tibetan rights groups. At least 22 have died.
The Dalai Lama has angered the Chinese government by refusing to condemn the protests and accusing Beijing of overseeing a “cultural genocide” against Tibetans.