Whether the coming changes in China will bring new life and new hope for Tibet and whether China establishesherself as a reliable, constructive, peaceful and leading member of the international community dependslargely on whether China continues to define herself mainly through her size, number, military, and economicpowers or whether she decides to commit herself to universal human values and principles and define herstrength and greatness through them.

This decision by China, in turn, will be influenced to a large degree bythe attitude and policies of the international community towards China. I have always drawn attention to theneed to bring Beijing into the mainstream of world democracy and have spoken against any idea of isolating andcontaining China. To attempt to do so would be morally incorrect and politically impractical. Instead, Ihave always counseled a policy of responsible and principled engagement with the Chinese government.

It is my sincere hope that the Chinese leadership will find the courage, wisdom, and vision to solve theTibetan issue through negotiations. Not only would it be helpful in creating a political atmosphere conduciveto the smooth transition of China into a new era but also China's image throughout the world would be greatlyenhanced. It would have a strong, positive impact on the people in Taiwan and will also do much to improveSino-Indian relations by inspiring genuine trust and confidence.

Times of change are also times ofopportunities. I truly believe that one day, there will be the chance at dialogue and peace because there isno other choice for China or for us. The present state of affairs in Tibet does nothing to alleviate thegrievances of the Tibetan people or to bring stability and unity to the People's Republic of China. Sooner orlater, the leadership in Beijing will have to face this fact. On my part, I remain committed to the processof dialogue. As soon as there is a positive signal from Beijing, my designated representatives stand ready tomeet with officials of the Chinese government anywhere, anytime.

My position on the issue of Tibet is straightforward. I am not seeking independence. As I have said manytimes before, what I am seeking is for the Tibetan people to be given the opportunity to have genuineself-rule in order to preserve their civilization and for the unique Tibetan culture, religion, language, andway of life to grow and thrive. For this, it is essential that the Tibetans be able to handle all theirdomestic affairs and to freely determine their social, economic, and cultural development.

In exile we continue with the democratization of the Tibetan polity. Last March, I informed the electedrepresentatives of the Assembly of Tibetan People's Deputies that the Tibetan exiles must directly elect thenext Kalon Tripa (Chairman of the Tibetan Cabinet). Consequently, last August for the first time in Tibet'shistory, the Tibetan exiles directly elected Samdhong Rinpoche as the new Kalon Tripa by a margin of over 84%of the total votes cast. This is a big step forward in the continuing growth and maturity of democracy in ourexile Tibetan community. It is my hope that in the future Tibet can also enjoy an elected democraticgovernment.

I take this opportunity to thank the numerous individuals, including members of governments, of parliamentsand of non-governmental organizations who have been continuing to support our non-violent freedom struggle.It is most encouraging to note that universities, schools, religious and social groups, artistic and businesscommunities as well as people from many other walks of life have also come to understand the problem of Tibetand are now expressing their solidarity with our cause.

Similarly, we have been able to establish cordial andfriendly relations with fellow Chinese Buddhists and ordinary Chinese people living abroad and in Taiwan. Thesympathy and support shown to our cause by a growing number of well-informed Chinese brothers and sisters isof special significance and a great encouragement to us Tibetans. I take this opportunity to pay tribute toand pray for the many Chinese brothers and sisters who have made tremendous sacrifices for freedom anddemocracy in China.

Above all, I would like to express on behalf of the Tibetans our gratitude to the peopleand the Government of India for their unsurpassed generosity and support. The growing international supportfor Tibet reflects the inherent human empathy for and solidarity with human suffering and a universalappreciation for truth and justice. I appeal to governments, parliaments, and to our friends to continuetheir support and efforts with a renewed sense of dedication and vigor.

Finally, I pay homage to the brave men and women of Tibet who have, and who continue to, sacrifice their livesfor the cause of our freedom and pray for an early end to the suffering of our people.

The Dalai Lama
Dharamsala, India
March 10, 2002