Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama on Thursday said Tibet wants to develop under Chinese rule, not independence from the country. However, he emphasised that China must respect the culture and heritage of Tibet, as well, PTI reported.

“The past is the past, we have to look at the future,” he said at an interactive session organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce in Kolkata. “Tibet has a different culture and a different script...The Chinese people love their own country, we love our own country.”

The Dalai Lama asserted that China had changed since it began to reintegrate with the world order in the late 1970s. “With China joining the world, it has changed 40% to 50% of what it was earlier,” the spiritual leader said.

He also highlighted the Tibetan Plateau’s ecological significance, saying that a Chinese ecologist had once told him that its environmental impact was like those of the South Pole and the North Pole. Taking good ecological care of the plateau will not only benefit Tibetans but billions of others, too, the Dalai Lama said.