NEW DELHI : Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said he could visit China in a year or two, considering that some perceived changes may have been taking place there. If the Tibetan spiritual leader does make the trip, it will be his first in six decades since he fled Lhasa following a failed uprising against Beijing in 1959.

“I am always telling Tibetans, it is much better to keep Chinese as our brothers and sisters than consider Chinese as our enemy," the Dalai Lama, who celebrated his 84th birthday in July, said in a recent interview. “I truly believe China is our neighbour, India, southern neighbour. For the time being the Chinese have some problem, but that is the Chinese Communist Party and some individual(s) within the party. For example, the (1989) Tiananmen event (former Chinese prime minister) Li Peng, main person who created suppression."

“Similarly, for the Tibet issue, now, (a) number of Chinese leaders, they realize over 70 years their policy regarding Tibet...is unrealistic. (There is) too much emphasis on use of force...So now, they find they are in a dilemma how to deal with Tibetan problem," the Dalai Lama said.

“(But) things are changing, things are changing," he said without elaborating. “I think within one year or two years, there is possibility (of) my visit to China."

China, which took control of Tibet in 1951, considers the Dalai Lama a “splittist" leader and has refused to talk to him or any of his representatives. The last round of talks between the Dalai Lama’s representatives and the Chinese government took place in 2011. China has not shown any interest since then to hold talks..

The Dalai Lama has repeatedly said he is not seeking independence for Tibet and is committed to remaining within China, something he reiterated during the interview. “We are very much willing to remain within the People’s Republic of China...all Tibetan areas should have the same rights, there should be preservation of Tibetan culture (and) our own language," he said.

The Tibetan government in exile headed by its president Lobsang Sangay is based in Dharamshala and India is also home to 150,000 Tibetans in exile. The Dalai Lama’s presence in India has been a major friction point between the two countries. India says the Dalai Lama is an “honoured guest" and it does not encourage any of his political activities or statements.

Chinese officials have already warned that Beijing will reject any reincarnation of the Tibetan spiritual leader born among the Tibetans in exiles in India, or elsewhere, and expects India not to recognize any successor chosen by the Tibetan government in exile who is not endorsed by Beijing.

India endorsing a Dalai Lama chosen by the Tibetan government in exile would become a major political issue between the two countries, China has indicated.

When asked for his reaction on the protests in Hong Kong and whether they could be looked at as a milestone in Chinese history, he said: “Chinese people, common people, love freedom. Hong Kong people are also Chinese—the fight is for freedom. I think Chinese President Xi Jinping (will) have to think (that) in order to preserve Chinese Communist Party, they should give more freedom to Chinese people—otherwise strict restriction, no free press and totalitarian, (there is) no future."

The former British colony has witnessed months of protests over a now-withdrawn extradition bill that would have allowed people to be sent to mainland China for trial. However, the protests have now evolved into calls for democracy, among other demands. The outpouring of opposition to the Beijing-backed government has plunged the city into its biggest political crisis in decades.

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