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1 million Chinese to swamp Tibet: Dalai Lama
May 24, 2008 16:30 IST
"We have received information that after the Olympics 1 million Chinese are going to settle in the autonomous region of Tibet," the Dalai Lama said in an interview published in the Guardian on Saturday.
He said: "There is every danger of Tibet becoming a truly Han Chinese land and Tibetans becoming an insignificant minority. Then the very basis of the idea of autonomy becomes meaningless."
The Tibetan spiritual leader has been pressing for religious autonomy in Tibet within the sovereignty of China.
He said there has been an increasing influx of Chinese settlers into Tibet in recent years as transport has improved, but the exact figures are a matter of dispute.
A 2000 census indicated there were 2.4 million Tibetans in the region and 159,000 Han Chinese who are in majority in Lhasa, the regional capital.
However, China has denied carrying out any deliberate settlement policy aimed at the dilution of Tibetan culture and points instead to the benefits brought to the region by economic development and investment.
The 72-year-old monk said, over-settlement and over-exploitation of Tibet was threatening the quality and flow of rivers flowing out of the Tibetan highlands, including the Yangtze, the Yellow River, the Indus, the Mekong and the Ganges [Images].
"Due to carelessness these rivers have been polluted and also reduced, and I think billions of people's lives depend on these rivers," the Dalai Lama said.
"There has been mining without proper care, deforestation, irrigation without proper planning. In some valleys, new diseases have developed which some specialists believe is the result of water pollution," he said.
His remarks comes after a meeting on Friday with the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the Lambeth Palace. He said the talks had been detailed and the prime minister had been helpful in spite of his "difficulties."
The Dalai Lama said: "He met me and he showed genuine concern and he wants to help."
According to Downing Street, the discussion focused on talks due on June 11 on Tibet's future between Tibetan representatives and Beijing [Images].
Asked what he thought Brown should tell the Chinese President Hu Jintao, when he attends the Olympic closing ceremony in August, the Dalai Lama said: "If within two months it gets more positive then the prime minister must give encouragement and appreciation. If things get worse, the prime minister will have to speak out."
Lhasa is now relatively quiet since protests were put down by Chinese troops in March, and the Dalai Lama has threatened to resign if the unrest turned violence.
He said the Tibetan commitment to non-violence might not outlast him.
"Now there are signs of frustration among Tibetans, not only young monks," he said.