By his own admission, Gyatso may be “the most popular Dalai Lama of all,” a status he has wryly attributed to Tibet’s all-powerful neighbor to the east. “If the Chinese had treated the Tibetans like real brothers, then the Dalai Lama might not be so popular,” he said.
The Dalai Lama would doubtless take anonymity and peace over his nation’s constant conflict with China, which attacked its neighbor in 1950 — the year Gyatso became the head of state. Around 80,000 Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama, fled the country after a failed uprising in 1959.
Forced to establish a government-in-exile in northern India, the Buddhist leader has spent more than a half-century negotiating for independence or at least self-rule for Tibet.
In 1989, the Dalai Lama received the Nobel Peace Prize for advocating “peaceful solutions based upon tolerance and mutual respect in order to preserve the historical and cultural heritage of his people.”