Dalai Lama asks China to ease censorship

WASHINGTON (AFP) - The Dalai Lama said Friday that China should ease its strict censorship, saying that the world's most populous nation would only achieve its full potential through greater freedoms.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, on his latest visit to the United States which was condemned by Beijing, said that he supported the Chinese people but believed that they suffered "disrespect" from the communist system.

"We really love Chinese people, admire Chinese people. Chinese people (are) hard-working, realistic, very efficient people. Their system, now, I think (is) really harmful to develop(ing) Chinese individual creativity," the Dalai Lama said at the Washington National Cathedral.

"1.3 billion Chinese people have every right to know the reality. Once 1.3 billion people know reality, they also have the ability to judge what is right, what is wrong," he said, adding that censorship in a globalized world cannot exist "only within China."

The Dalai Lama, who fled his homeland for India in 1959 during an abortive uprising against Chinese rule, also called on China to bring its judiciary to "international standards." He said he was alarmed after seeing poor Chinese who could not address grievances through judicial means.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner on Thursday met the leadership of the US Congress and on February 21 visited the White House to see President Barack Obama. China condemned the meetings, on Friday urging congressional leaders to "stop conniving" with the monk.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of plotting to split Tibet from China, but the Dalai Lama has said that he accepts Chinese rule and is only seeking greater autonomy and respect for human rights.

Questioned by a student on why China was angered by his meetings in Washington, the Dalai Lama said with a laugh, "Ask them." The Dalai Lama said he suspected that his outspokenness has upset Beijing, telling the audience, "I am not acting like, 'Yes, minister,' (to) whatever they say."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.