The Dalai Lama
His Holiness The Dalai Lama addresses the gathered media at a Children in Crossfire press conference on 11 September, 2017 in Londonderry, Northern Ireland Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

The Dalai Lama made serious efforts to bury the hatchet with China this week, when at a conference in the Indian city of Kolkota, he stressed that Tibet has no intentions of breaking its ties with its eastern neighbour despite their occasional "fights".

Speaking at a programme organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, the Buddhist leader urged both sides to forget the past and focus on the future. "Since 1974 we are not seeking independence. Tibetans also want a modernised Tibet. We need more material development," he said.

"For that, remaining with China is in our interest, provided they respect Tibet's unique culture and heritage."

The Dalai Lama pointed out that Tibet was different from China and while looking to progress, it did not want to change much. "Tibet has a different culture and a different script... The Chinese people love their own country. We love our own country," he said. "With China joining the world, it has changed 40% to 50% of what it was earlier."

The 82-year-old monk went on to make comparisons between India and China. "Compared to the Chinese, I think Indian people are lazy. Maybe it is due to the climate. But India is most stable," he said in a lighter vein, adding that Indians are more genuine. "Chinese officials are experts in giving artificial smiles."

The Dalai Lama suggested that Asian countries create a union similar to the EU. "I always admire the spirit of the European Union. They recognise that Europe is more important than different nations. I feel there should be a union in Asia... India, China, Japan and small countries in this area," he added.

The spiritual leader and China have shared a tense relationship, with the Dalai Lama leaving Tibet to live in India in self-imposed exile since 1959. The Chinese government on its part has taken strong action against sympathisers of the Buddhist leader and on numerous occasions attempted to discredit him.