“A wave of protests has swept across Tibet, and these protests have been met with violence and a crackdown by the Chinese.
I believe these protests are significant. They are driven by the strong Tibetan belief and experience that the Chinese Government continues to suppress the Tibetan culture and religion. It has been going on for decades. There are many examples.
- So I urge the Chinese Government to end the crackdown, listen to the concerns of the Tibetans, and be open to reconciliation.
- The Dalai Lama has been trying to initiate substantive dialogue with the Chinese for more than 20 years. In the 1990s, I carried three letters to President Jiang Zemin of China from the Dalai Lama requesting a face to face meeting. Today, I renew the call for the leadership of China to sit down and talk personally with the Dalai Lama.
Since 2002, there have been six rounds of talks between the Envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China. But these talks have not yielded substantive results.
I believe the direct involvement of both the Dalai Lama and Chinese President Hu Jintao is key.
I consider myself a friend of both the Dalai Lama and China.
I have been blessed to be able to call the Dalai Lama a friend for almost three decades. I first met him during a trip to India and Nepal in the fall of 1978.
At the same time, I also had the opportunity as Mayor of San Francisco to become acquainted with several of China’s future leaders through the San Francisco-Shanghai Sister City Relationship that I started with Mayor Wang Daohan in 1980. Mayor Wang’s immediate successors, Jiang Zemin and Zhu Rongji, were both later promoted to high-level positions in the Chinese Communist Party and Central Government after leaving Shanghai.
I believe the Chinese mistrust of the Dalai Lama is misplaced. If His Holiness the Dalai Lama were to return to Tibet, his wish is, as he says, to be a simple monk and to be involved only in religious and cultural matters, not to establish an independent Tibet.
This issue can only be resolved through dialogue and reconciliation, not through violence.”