After violence erupted in Lhasa and other Tibetan towns in China, the Dalai Lama, who has called himself an "innocent monk", repeatedly called on for "non-violence" and "dialogue" with the Chinese government and said he would "resign as leader of Tibet's exiles if there are more violent anti-Chinese protests".
There is the pacifist image of a man with "remarkable restraint", as a foreign editorial said. Not everyone in China is convinced that this is the reality.
Since he fled to India in 1959, the Dalai Lama has advocated "Tibetan Independence."
He has delivered speeches every March 10 to commemorate a rebellion in 1959. From 1960 to 1977, he mentioned Tibet as independent -- historically and culturally -- in 12 of these annual addresses.
In the late 1970s, western countries began improving relations with China. The Dalai Lama then embarked upon a "middle course" --greater autonomy in "Greater Tibet" featuring his five-point peace plan presented to members of the U.S. Congress, and his seven-point Strasbourg proposal.
His "Greater Tibet" covers not only the present Tibet Autonomous Region but also the adjacent Qinghai Province, the southern part of Gansu Province, the western part of Sichuan Province and the northwestern part of Yunnan Province, which takes up about a quarter of China's territory.
This so-called "Greater Tibet" never existed, said experts.
"Tibet has been part of China since the Yuan Dynasty in the 13th century," said Ngagwang Cering, head of the institute of contemporary studies of the Tibetan Academy of Social Sciences. According to this researcher, the term "Tibet Independence" came about only some 20 years after the British invasion of the area in 1904.
"A Britophile force in Tibet stood out after the invasion," said Xu Tiebing, professor with the International Communications College of the Communication University of China, who cited this as the beginning of the Tibetan issue.
Therefore, "Greater Tibet" doesn't reflect any historical division, nor does it fit the living patterns of the Chinese people, said Gyaidam Lodain Puncog with the China Tibetology Research Center.
"Chinese ethnic minorities congregate in different regions, where, however, they are mixed with the Han," said the professor.
"With such a proposition, the Dalai Lama's real intention is to eliminate the rule of the Communist Party of China," he said.
The intention was shown in remarks of the Dalai Lama's younger brother and follower, Tendzin Choegyal.
During an interview by French reporter Pierre-Antoine Donnet, Tendzin Choegyal said: "We will first seek autonomy, and then run the Chinese out! Just like Marcos was run out of the Philippines, and the British were run out of India! We are thinking of the world, of coming generations. Autonomy or self-rule is the start."
The Dalai Lama's elder brother, Gyalo Thondup, explained greater autonomy like this: "Twenty years after greater autonomy, a referendum is to be held in the 'Greater Tibet' region to push Tibet from 'semi-independence' to independence."
The Dalai Lama's long-cherished dream for independence has been seen even by foreign politicians. J. Stapleton Roy, former U.S. Ambassador to China, said in the Human Rights Situation of the Tibetan People on Oct. 14 1987 that "the Administration disavows any support for the Dalai Lama's five-point program", as "neither the United States nor any other member of the United Nations recognizes or has ever recognized Tibet as a sovereign state independent of China".
But the Dalai Lama continued his association with some western countries and criticized China and development in Tibet.
"With the help of international forces, he wants to pressure the Chinese government and force it give in, so as to achieve his goal," said Zhou Yuan, research fellow with the China Tibetology Research Center.
Sometimes, he takes advantage of a favorable international atmosphere, said Zhou, who cited the period from 1989 to 1993 when drastic changes took place in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, the latter of which broke up. During this period, the word "independence" reappeared in the annual March 10 speech.
Therefore, the professor said, the Dalai Lama's appeal for dialogue with the Chinese government has never been and may never be sincere.
As Premier Wen Jiabao pointed out at a press conference earlier this month, the door of dialogue remains open to the Dalai Lama, so long as he gives up "Tibet Independence" and recognizes Tibet and Taiwan as inalienable parts of the Chinese territory.
"We need to watch what the Dalai Lama does. It is up to his actions," Wen said.