Dalai's plan to retire nonsense: Tibet top official

By Cui Jia (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-03-11 08:01
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BEIJING - The Dalai Lama's announcement of his plan to step down as political head of the "exiled Tibetan government" is "absolutely meaningless", said a top legislator of the Tibet autonomous region on Thursday.

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"There is a great difference between the Dalai Lama retiring as a political head and his retiring as a religious leader," Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the standing committee of the Tibet autonomous region's people's congress and former chairman of the region, told China Daily on the sidelines of the National People's Congress annual session.

"Since no country recognizes his self-declared 'exiled Tibetan government', whatever he does in his illegal political organization is nonsense and Tibet will not be affected at all."

The 14th Dalai Lama fled to India and created the self-declared "Tibetan government-in-exile" after the Chinese central government foiled an armed rebellion staged by him and his supporters in 1959. The 76-year-old religious figure was blamed for fomenting the March 14 bloody riot in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet autonomous region, three years ago that left at least 18 people dead and 400 injured.

"I cannot deny that the Dalai Lama, as Living Buddha and a religious leader, does have some influence on his believers," said Qiangba Puncog. "So his death is expected to have a minor impact on Tibet."

He said the Dalai Lama is more like a politician wearing a cassock and Italian-made shoes than a Buddhist monk.

Qiangba Puncog said the Dalai Lama has said many times that he will go into retirement or semi-retirement as a political figure and that people must wait to see what he will actually do this time.

Jiang Yu, spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Thursday that the Dalai Lama is playing "tricks" on the world.

"He has talked often about retirement in the past few years," Jiang said at a press conference. "I think these are tricks to deceive the international community."

The Dalai Lama said on Thursday he would seek an amendment allowing him to resign his political office and choose a new leader when "the exiled Tibetan parliament" meets next week in the northern Indian town of Dharamshala.

"The Dalai Lama is a political exile under a religious cloak and has long engaged in activities aimed at splitting apart China," Jiang said. "He is also the mastermind behind a political clique of Tibetan independence activists."