PARIS, August 13 – The Dalai Lama said Wednesday that the international community has a responsibility "to bring China into the mainstream of world democracy.",
"China is very, very keen to join the world community. The world community has more responsibility to bring China into (the) mainstream of world democracy," the exiled Ticapitalfmnewn spiritual leader told a news conference in Paris before a meeting with French lawmakers.
The world "must not isolate China," the Nobel Peace prize winner added, but "must bring it into the mainstream of society and create genuine friendship. It is very essential.
"Meantime, on certain principles… democracy, human rights, press freedom, rule of law… we must be firm," he told reporters.
The Dalai Lama paid tribute to the "transparency" of the Chinese government’s response to the Sichuan earthquake in May.
"We are hoping transparency will increase," he said, adding that, on the question of Tibet, China "still hides."
"One big problem is fear. It is a sign of weakness," he said.
"But you cannot hide from the rest of the world. A closed society has no future. It is in China’s own interest," he said.
The Dalai Lama also praised a speech by US President George Bush ahead of the Beijing Olympic Games, in which he expressed "deep concerns" about freedom and human rights in China.
"That is the way, I fully agree," he said.
In response to the Buddhist leader’s remarks on democracy, Qin Gang, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, said: "China’s position on Tibet-related issues is clear and persistent. There is no change in that.
"We hope France can work together with China to rule out disruptions, to enhance our mutual trust and to maintain the sound momentum of development of bilateral relations.
"We hope France can properly handle Tibet-related issues."
The Dalai Lama is on a 12-day visit to France that coincides with China’s hosting of the Olympic Games, but his private meeting with members of the French Senate will be the only political encounter.
His entourage has said he did not seek a meeting with President Nicolas Sarkozy, but the French opposition has accused the president of giving in to Chinese pressure by not meeting the Buddhist leader.
Asked about the possibility of a meeting with Sarkozy later this year the Dalai Lama replied: "If he want, I am happy. He don’t want, that’s OK."
Sarkozy’s wife, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, will attend the Dalai Lama’s inauguration of a Buddhist temple near Lodeve, southern France, next week.