Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama has “no worries” about Donald Trump’s election as US president, saying he expects the businessman will align his future policies with global realities.
The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner’s remarks were his most extensive yet regarding the election of the real estate tycoon and reality TV star, who has called for putting America’s concerns first and shown little interest in Washington’s traditional act of supporting global democracy and social justice.
Commenting at the conclusion of a four-day visit to Mongolia, the leader of Tibetan Buddhism said he looks forward to seeing Mr Trump at some point following the January 20 inauguration.
Such meetings usually draw protests from Beijing, which accuses the Dalai Lama of seeking to split Tibet from China.
The 81-year-old monk said he has always regarded the US as the leader of the “free world” and was not concerned about remarks made by Mr Trump during the election campaign. Some of those comments have been cited as offensive to Muslims, Hispanics and other US minority groups.
“I feel during the election, the candidate has more freedom to express. Now once they (are) elected, having the responsibility, then they have to carry their cooperation, their work, according (to) reality,” he told reporters. “So I have no worries.”
Tenzin Dhardon Sharling, spokeswoman for the self-declared Tibetan government-in-exile in the northern Indian town of Dharamsala, said she was not aware of any plans for a meeting between the Dalai Lama and Mr Trump.
She said the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan exile community have enjoyed good relations with successive US presidents and expected that to continue under a Trump administration.
“His holiness has always put great hope in the US as a champion of democracy. He hopes for continued support from the new president and his government,” she said in.
China had demanded Mongolia scrap his visit for the sake of the “general picture of a sound and steady development of bilateral ties”. Mongolia’s fragile economy is heavily dependent on China, and the countries are in discussions over a billion-dollar Chinese loan to help pull it out of recession.
Mongolian television station Eagle TV’s website reported that China has delayed talks on the loan and on cooperation in mining, apparently in response to the Dalai Lama’s visit.
Mongolia’s foreign ministry said it had not received any notice, while China’s foreign ministry offered no confirmation but demanded Mongolia take measures to “eliminate the negative impact” of the visit.
“The incorrect actions of the Mongolian side regarding the Dalai’s visit harmed the political foundations of China-Mongolian relations and caused a negative impact on the development of the bilateral relations,” spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters at a daily briefing.
In his comments, the Dalai Lama said his visit to the landlocked, primarily Buddhist nation had no political purpose and that he had not publicly advocated independence for Tibet since 1974. The Dalai Lama has long called for Tibet to remain under Chinese rule, but with greater political participation by Tibetans and stronger protections for its traditional Buddhist culture.
China says Tibet has been part of its territory for centuries, although many Tibetans say they were effectively an independent country for much of that time.
Asked to comment on climate change – which Mr Trump has denounced as a hoax – the Dalai Lama said he was heartened by the turn to alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power.
“I think… we must now concentrate on these things. I don’t know whether we can reduce cars or not. People everywhere busy, busy. I don’t know if it will be possible,” he said.
While the US has in the past called on China to respect civil liberties in Tibet, Mr Trump has praised authoritarian rulers such as Russia’s Vladimir Putin who have been strongly criticised by human rights groups.