Dharamshala: - The spiritual leader of Tibet His Holiness the Dalai Lama, indicated on Thursday that he had had discussions with Chinese government about making a pilgrimage to Wutai Shan mountain, a Buddhist sacred site in northern China's Shanxi Province.
In an interview with AFP in Dharamshala, the India's Himalayan hill town that is now headquarters to the Central Tibetan Administration, His Holiness the Dalai Lama said, "It's not finalized, not yet, but the idea is there." He said the conversations were taking place "not formally or seriously, but informally."
"I express, this is my desire, and some of my friends, they are also showing their genuine interest or concern," he said. "Recently, some Chinese officials, for example the deputy party secretary in the autonomous region of Tibet, he also mentioned the possibility of my visit as a pilgrimage to that sacred place."
No official dialogue has taken place between China and the Tibetan exiles since 2010, though leaders in Dharamshala say they receive visits from businessmen and academics who may serve as interlocutors for the Chinese government. His Holiness the Dalai Lama, who will turn 80 next year, has expressed hope for progress under the new Chinese president, Xi Jinping, whose father was a close friend.
When Mr. Xi visited India this month, His Holiness the Dalai Lama went out of his way to praise him, telling reporters that "Xi Jinping is more open-minded; his thinking is more realistic."
His Holiness the Dalai Lama's comments are only the latest indication that such a trip is under discussion. Late last month, Wu Yingjie, a high-ranking official from the Tibetan Autonomous Region, told journalists that talks were going on through "personal envoys," and that they were limited to the possibility of his return to Tibet.
"All Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama and the people around him, can return if they accept Tibet and Taiwan as part of China, and give up 'splittist' efforts," he said, in comments reported by The Hindu, an Indian daily newspaper.
Mr. Sangay, the political leader of the Central Tibetan Administration, cautioned against reading too much into the chatter, saying, "There is no formal dialogue as such, there is a lot of speculation.
"This theory is an old theory, that His Holiness would visit Wutai Shan mountain," he said, noting that allowing such a trip could also be seen as a way to dilute the Tibetan independence movement.
"Hundreds of Buddhists come to Dharamshala, some claiming to have some contacts, but we cannot verify it," Mr. Sangay said. "They say maybe Xi Jinping could be different. We are hopeful, but we have 50 years of bad experience."