Tokyo: Tibet’s fragile ecosystem is at risk from climate change and regulations imposed on businesses by the Chinese government don’t provide enough protection against deforestation and environmental damage, the Dalai Lama said.
Tibet’s spiritual leader, who fled to India in 1959 to campaign for Tibetan self-rule and religious freedom from the Chinese Communist Party, told reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday the “Tibet issue” was now environmental as well as political. “We really need special care,” the head of Tibet’s government-in-exile said. “In China, restrictions can easily be ignored using pocket money, corruption. Businessmen are responsible for deforestation and damage.”
The temperature on the Tibetan plateau is rising by 0.3 degrees Celsius every decade, more than 10 times the national average, and is causing receding snowlines, shrinking glaciers, drying grasslands and desert expansion, China’s state news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday.
China and the rest of the world have a vested interest in ensuring that the Tibetan plateau’s ecosystem remains intact because it is the source of some of the world’s largest rivers, the Dalai Lama said. Rivers that run from the Tibetan plateau include the Indus, the Ganges and the Brahmaputra.
“Special care of the Tibetan ecology is not only the concern of 6 million Tibetans, but also millions of others in South Asia and China who depend on the rivers,” he said.
A 2005 United Nations report found that more than half the world’s population is dependent on water from the Tibetan plateau and the Himalayas, where the Yangtze, Yellow and Mekong rivers originate.
The Dalai Lama, born Lhamo Dhondrub in 1935, who was forbidden from engaging in political activities during his visit to Japan, said he was not concerned that the Japanese government didn’t recognize his as an official visit.
“The main purpose of my visit is non-political, I have nothing to ask of the Japanese government,” he said. “And I always do not want to create and inconvenience to anybody, so it’s no problem.”
During his visit, the Dalai Lama told Japan’s Sankei Shinbum newspaper he is considering naming his successor while he is still alive, a move that would depart from centuries of tradition. It would also probably anger the Chinese government, which plans to choose its own religious leaders, over whom the state can exert political control.
Tibetans believe the Dalai Lama is the reincarnation of his predecessor, the 13th Dalai Lama, who died in 1935, and is therefore the reincarnation of Avalokitsevara, the Buddha of Compassion.
China appointed Tibet’s second-highest religious leader, the Panchen Lama, in 1995 over the objections of the exiled Dalai Lama. Tibet’s government-in-exile said the real Panchen Lama was imprisoned the same year by China at the age of six.