Himachal Pradesh: China might be more economically advanced than India but lacks in fundamental values like freedom, transparency and rule of law, much required for political growth, exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama says. He is also in 'no hurry' to name his successor as he hopes to 'live for several decades more'
Acknowledging China's economic rise, he contrasted it with India, quoting Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's observations last year during his visit to Washington.
'As the Indian prime minister expressed, China may be more advanced than India in the economic field, but it is lacking in other fundamental values such as the rule of law, transparency, personal freedom and freedom of the press ,' the Dalai Lama said in an interview with IANS at his residence here.
'America and the free world consider these fundamental values very important and they practise them. Individual freedom leads to innovation,' he added.
The interview took place in the Dalai Lama's official bungalow atop a mountain at an altitude of over 6,000 feet, overlooking the lush Kangra Valley on one side and towered over by the pre-Himalayan Dhauladhar range on the other.
The Dalai Lama said China's economy has grown in recent decades with outside money and by exploiting cheap labour. 'Of course, recently, there are reports of more innovation out of China. That's good, but politically still everything is controlled,' he said.
'The free world's strength is not only (dependent) on money but there are other factors. In China it is only the strength of money,' the leader said.
'So in the long run many Chinese intellectuals and some leaders in China realise that is a weakness and they want to change. They want modernisation both in the economy and in the political field. There is a wind of change in China,' he said.
China's rise as the world's second largest economy overtaking Japan is a 'positive' development that would give the country 'self-confidence' to deal with tricky issues such as Tibet, the Dalai Lama opined.
'If the country gets more self-confidence, they can handle domestic problems better. If their whole situation is a little shaky, they are more hesitant to handle tricky issues,' the Dalai Lama said.
'From that viewpoint the People's Republic of China getting stronger is useful. It may be more positive,' he said responding to recent reports that China has now overtaken Japan as the world's second largest economy.
The Dalai Lama said: 'Obviously in the 60 years until 1980 when China remained isolated, the thinking of the people remained limited because of a lack of knowledge.'
'After Deng Xiaoping (China's first vice premier) opened up the economy, wider contact developed with the outside world. So, a greater number of the Chinese people are now open-minded, more liberal-minded,' he added.
Illustrating China's rising self-confidence and open-mindedness, the leader said: 'For example, in the last two years we noticed articles written by Chinese people in the Chinese language about Tibet, all very much supportive of our approach, criticising the government policy.'
'Thirty to forty years ago this would have been impossible. Now such things happen,' he added.
On the question of his succession, the 75-year-old spiritual leader said he hopes to 'live for several decades more' and thinks 'there is no hurry.'
'In 1969, I said whether the Dalai Lama institution should continue is up to the Tibetan people. May be in five years when I am 80 I will ask again whether it should continue or not,' the Dalai Lama told visiting IANS correspondent.
'If the majority says it is better to go the traditional way then once more I will reaffirm what I have said for years that if reincarnation search is to happen, the very logic of reincarnation is the fulfilment of the task started in the previous life,' the Dalai Lama said.
'So in case I die here as a refugee, my reincarnation should logically carry continuously my uncompleted task. Obviously the Chinese government will choose another sort of official Dalai Lama. There will be two Dalai Lamas, more complications,' he said.
'Some of these (Communist) hardliners think that they are experts. It is quite strange that Chinese communist hardliners consider me as a demon. At the same time they are very much concerned about a demon's reincarnation,' he said.
Taking a larger view of the institution of the Dalai Lama, he said:
'Tibetan spirit is not dependant on the Dalai Lama but Tibetan culture and people. As long as there are Tibetan people there will be Tibetan spirit. So whether or not I am there, Tibetan spirit will continue.'
In 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to Himachal Pradesh's Dharamsala, which also houses the Tibetan government-in-exile.