Dharamsala, July 6 (IANS) Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama's outreach to Chinese students and scholars is shaping their attitudes towards Tibet, said Lobsang Sangay, the democratically elected political leader of the Tibetan people, Saturday.
"His Holiness' outreach to Chinese students and scholars and his teachings to Chinese Buddhist practitioners are shaping Chinese attitudes towards Tibet and Tibetans," Sangay said.
His assertions came when the spiritual leader, revered by the Tibetans as a "living god" and idolised in the Orient and the West, turned 78.
Tibetan democracy in exile, Sangay said, is the result of decades of efforts by the Dalai Lama.
"Tibetan democracy in exile from its infancy to today's consolidated state is the result of decades of efforts by the Dalai Lama," the political successor of the Dalai Lama said in a statement.
Sangay said 119 Tibetans have set themselves on fire in Tibet. The common cry of all self-immolators is the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet and freedom for Tibetans.
"At this critical period of our struggle, Tibetans in exile and diaspora must utilise this democracy and freedom responsibly to show solidarity with and highlight the suffering of Tibetans in Tibet, challenge the hard-line policies of the Chinese government, and unite all Tibetans."
Pursuing further the Dalai Lama's "middle-way approach" that seeks "greater autonomy" for people in Tibet rather than complete independence, 43-year-old Sangay said: "The middle-way approach is steadily bearing results in the minds of many Chinese people, particularly the intellectuals".
Some of the brightest Chinese intellectual luminaries, including Liu Xiaobo, the imprisoned Nobel Laureate, were signatories of a courageous open letter in 2008 that expressed support for the Dalai Lama's peace initiatives, he said.
Sangay, who took over the reins of the government-in-exile in 2011, said the "middle-way" approach was also in sync with then China's paramount leader Deng Xiaoping's position that "except for independence of Tibet, all other issues could be discussed and resolved".
With the Dalai Lama stepping down from diplomacy and active politics, the elected leader of Tibetan people, earlier known as the prime minister-in-exile, has acquired added stature.
The 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, was born July 6, 1935, to a peasant family in Taktser village in the Amdo region of Tibet.
Ever since he fled Tibet in 1959, the Tibetan spiritual leader has travelled to more than 50 countries and met with presidents, prime ministers and crown rulers of major nations.
He has been bestowed with over 150 major awards, prizes and honorary doctorates, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, United Nations Earth Prize in 1991, US Congressional Gold Medal in 2007 and the Templeton Award in 2012.
The exile Tibetan administration is based in this northern Indian hill town.