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Dalai Lama ends Swiss visit with call for peaceful change in China

Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, wrapped up his visit to Switzerland with a call for a peaceful approach to autonomy for Tibetans in China.

This content was published on August 10, 1999 - 16:50

Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, wrapped up his visit to Switzerland with a call for a peaceful approach to autonomy for Tibetans in China.

“It is important to avoid violence…If we use violence, we are not getting support from the Chinese people,” the Dalai Lama told reporters in Geneva, adding that he hoped for "gradual, smooth change" in China.

China invaded Tibet in 1950, claiming it was historically a Chinese province. Switzerland provided an early refugee for fleeing Tibetans. There are now more than 2,000 Tibetans living in Switzerland, making it the largest exiled Tibetan community in the West, and the third largest worldwide after India and Nepal.

The Dalai Lama said that the Chinese people were losing interest in Maoist ideology and turning to religious Buddhism and Christianity.

Asked if China's ban of the Falun Gong spiritual movement last month was a bad omen for ethnic Tibetans and other minorities, he said that, overall, in mainland China the population's interest in religion was growing.

The Swiss government kept a deliberately low profile during the Dalai Lama's four-day visit because of Chinese sensitivities.

During a state visit in March, Chinese President Jiang Zemin strongly criticised the Swiss government for failing to crack down on a protest by exiled Tibetans in the capital Berne, where he was due to meet cabinet members.

"I don't want to create any inconvenience," the Dalai Lama said Tuesday when asked if he regretted the Swiss government's stance.

On Monday, the Dalai Lama met a cross-party group of Swiss parliamentarians and a foreign ministry official in Geneva to discuss the situation in Tibet.


From staff and wire reports.

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