Following the 14th Dalai Lama’s recent statement that an informal dialogue was underway with Beijing about a possible pilgrimage to Wutai Shan—one of China’s four sacred Buddhist peaks held especially dear to Tibetan Buddhists—China’s foreign ministry has dismissed the possibility of the Tibetan spiritual leader’s imminent return. AFP reports:
“Our position on the Dalai Lama is consistent and clear,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a regular briefing. “What he needs to do is not make a so-called return to Tibet but give up his position and conduct on splitting China,” he added. “This will do good for him.”
Now aged 79, the Dalai Lama has been exiled from Tibet since he fled a failed uprising in 1959. Beijing has since condemned him as a “dangerous separatist”, yet the Nobel laureate spiritual leader – who retired from politics in 2011 – maintains that he wants only greater autonomy for Tibetan areas in China.
[…] The Dalai Lama has long expressed a desire to visit Wutai Shan, a mountain in northern China considered sacred by the country’s Buddhists. The comments were the strongest suggestion yet of a thaw in relations between Beijing and the exile. Last month, an anonymous blog post appeared briefly on a Chinese-run website describing the Dalai Lama’s return in positive terms, before it was taken down.
But the Chinese foreign ministry’s comments – while neither confirming nor denying that contacts have taken place – indicate that publicly Beijing is maintaining its hardline stance towards the monk. [Source]
The Dalai Lama’s statement about the potential journey came after the he offered praise to Chinese President Xi Jinping—another recent unconfirmed suggestion that long stalemated relations between Beijing and the 14th Dalai Lama may be thawing. Similarly last year, Beijing reaffirmed its anti-Dalai Lama stance after indications of policy shifts in Tibetan regions led some to suspect that stance could be softening.