BEIJING – The Dalai Lama's decision to give up political power won't boost or diminish the likelihood of his being able to return to Tibet, the Chinese government-appointed governor of the remote Himalayan region said Thursday.
China demonizes the Dalai Lama as a separatist but he remains Tibetan Buddhism's highest spiritual authority and is revered by most Tibetans.
Governor Padma Choling told reporters at a briefing in Beijing that "the door is always open" for the Dalai Lama's return — if he meets China's preconditions — and that his retirement from the government-in-exile he set up in India was irrelevant to negotiations with China.
Beijing does not recognize the Dharamsala-based government that until recently was headed by the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader. The Dalai Lama recently turned over his political authority to Lobsang Sangay, a 43-year-old Harvard legal scholar who won April elections.
Lobsang has predicted that the 76-year-old Dalai Lama will return to Tibet during his lifetime.
Choling, the most senior ethnic Tibetan in the regional government, said the Dalai Lama has "done nothing good for Tibet since he left in 1959," and his decisions and actions are far removed from his homeland.
"Whether Dalai retires or not, where he goes and what he does after his retirement will have a certain degree of effect on Tibet, but what will it be?" he said. "Let me put it this way by quoting one of my predecessors who said 'Waves in a swimming pool don't make the weather.'"
Beijing says the Dalai Lama is welcome to come back if he drops his separatist activities and aspirations for an independent Tibet. The spiritual leader has repeatedly denied seeking Tibet's independence from China.
China also says he must accept Tibet is an inalienable part of China and recognize Taiwan as a province of China. China claims the self-ruled island of Taiwan as part of its territory.
The Communist-led Chinese government has held nine rounds of talks with the Dalai Lama and his representatives over the years, with no headway.
China claims Tibet has been its territory for centuries, although many Tibetans say they were effectively independent for most of that time. The Dalai Lama fled into exile amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, nine years after communist forces entered the Himalayan region.