Dalai Lama says China overpoliticizing his travels
The Dalai Lama, Tibet's spiritual leader, said Saturday that China was overpoliticizing his travels and claimed his decisions on where to go were spiritual in nature, not political, AP reported.
The Dalai Lama, on a visit to Tokyo, said he believed the Chinese government saw him as a "troublemaker" and had read too much political meaning into his frequent travels abroad.
"The Chinese government considers me a troublemaker, so it is my duty to create more trouble," he quipped. "The Chinese government politicizes too much wherever I go. Where I go is not political."
Despite strong criticism from China, the Buddhist leader, who lives in exile in India, recently visited Taiwan, which Beijing considers part of its territory.
Beijing has also strongly opposed his planned visit next month to India's northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, which is at the heart of a long-running border dispute with China. He is scheduled to visit the Tawang Buddhist monastery in the state on Nov. 8.
"I am surprised the Chinese government is negative about my visit," he said. "If it creates some problems, that is sad."
Beijing opposes most activities of the Dalai Lama, whom it accuses of advocating independence from Chinese rule for his native Tibet.
Last month he visited Taiwan, his third trip there, to bless the survivors of Typhoon Morakot, which left nearly 700 people dead after it hit the island on Aug 8. He visited disaster areas in southern Taiwan, comforted survivors and held a prayer meeting for typhoon victims attended by 15,000 people, according to his official Web site.
The Dalai Lama did not shy away from criticizing China at his news conference Saturday, saying it lacks freedom and transparency, and is not trusted by its neighbors.
He encouraged people to visit Tibet and decide whether Tibetans under Chinese government rule are happy and thriving.
"Go see for yourself," he said. "If we are wrong, we will quit all of our activities."
Tibetans attacked Chinese migrants and shops in the regional capital, Lhasa, and torched parts of the city's commercial district in anti-government riots in March 2008.
Chinese officials say 22 people died, but Tibetans say many times that number were killed.
The violence in Lhasa and protests in Tibetan communities across western China were the most sustained unrest in the region since the late 1980s.