Source: Chicago Sun-Times
On July 17, 2006 the Chicago Sun-Times reported, "Time, Tibetan exiles fear, is running out. As the Dalai Lama ages, their dreams of returning to a free Tibet are slowly being crushed by a realization that they face a long bleak period without an international icon to plead their case before the world and keep them united. Since fleeing into exile in India in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule, the Tibetan spiritual leader has personified his Himalayan nation's struggle for self-determination... He turned 71 on July 6, and while generally considered to be in good health, the globe-trotting holy man was grounded by his doctors a day before his birthday because of exhaustion and canceled all his engagements for a month. A second fear also haunts the exiles. If they do achieve their goal, will the Tibet they knew still be there for them to return to? This month, China realized its decades-old ambition of linking Tibet to Beijing by train, heightening Tibetan concerns that Beijing is trying to crush Tibetan culture by swamping it with Han, the majority Chinese ethnic group. Another worry is that the Dalai Lama's nonviolent philosophy, which won him the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize, may die with him, possibly triggering a return to arms that most agree would fail. For now, the Dalai Lama's influence is paramount, among the exiles as well as deep inside Tibet, even though his teachings and even his portrait are banned."