×

Richard Gere: ‘There Will Be a Tibetan Spring Eventually,’ ‘We Have to Be Patient’

'I am welcomed by the Chinese people, but not by the Chinese government'

KARLOVY VARY, Czech Republic — Richard Gere predicted a Tibetan Spring at a press conference on Saturday at the Czech Republic’s Karlovy Vary Film Festival.

The actor, who received the festival’s Crystal Globe for outstanding contribution to world cinema on Friday, was addressing a question regarding Chinese control of Tibet, which China has occupied since an invasion in 1950.

Gere is a follower of the Dalai Lama, the India-based spiritual leader of Tibet, and an advocate for the liberation of Tibet. He disputed a suggestion from a journalist that he was not welcome in China. “I am welcomed by the Chinese people, but not by the Chinese government. I haven’t been able to (visit China) since 1993. But you guys can understand that. The Czech Republic understands Communism very well,” he said.

Gere rejected the suggestion that there were negotiations going on behind the scenes that would lead to an improvement in relations between the Tibetan Buddhists in exile and the Chinese government.

He was asked what would happen when the Dalai Lama, who is 80 years old on July 6, dies and the Tibetan Buddhists sought out the next Dalai Lama. Gere referred to an episode in Tibetan history when the Panchen Lama, the second-highest Tibetan lama, spoke out against the Chinese treatment of Tibetans in 1989, and died in “mysterious” circumstances soon thereafter. When the Panchen Lama’s successor, a 6-year-old boy, was named by the Tibetan Buddhists, he was “kidnapped” by the Chinese Communist authorities, Gere said, and “has not been seen since.” The Chinese then selected their own Panchen Lama, whom the Tibetans regard as “bogus,” Gere said. This scenario could be repeated when the Dalai Lama dies, Gere claimed.

“There is a fear — which is based in reality — that the Chinese will try to co-opt the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama. In fact the Chinese Communist Party has said that it is only up to the Chinese to decide who the Dalai Lama will incarnate as,” he said. “So there is a drama going on now about who will decide who is the next Dalai Lama.”

He continued: “The Dalai Lama has said: ‘Well, first of all, he is not going to incarnate inside of China if it is still controlled by the Chinese Communists.’ In any event it is up to him where he, and how he incarnates, not the Chinese Communists, so there is this absurd line of reasoning and declarations from the Communist Party.”

Gere added that the Czechs, because of their experience of living under Communism, could identify with such “absurdity.” “You have such experience with the absurdities of a Communist party, so you’ll understand the position of the Tibetans quite well. It will change eventually as it changed here, and there will be a Prague Spring in Tibet,” he said, referring to the anti-communist uprising in Czechoslovakia in 1968, that was unsuccessful, and the Velvet Revolution in 1989, which ended communist rule in the country. “Things will change,” Gere said. “We have to be patient and we have to keep Tibetan culture alive in the meantime, because the Chinese are doing their best to completely eradicate it.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Juntos

    Juntos Films Production House Launches in Chile with Ambitious Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

    Francisco Hervé of Panchito Films, Moisés Sepúlveda from Madriguera Films and Daniela Raviola, three of Chile’s most exciting international-minded independent producers, have together launched a new indie production house, Juntos Films. Hervé has written, directed (“The Power of Speech,” “The Lost City”) and produced (María Paz González ‘s “Daughter”) several feature films, documentaries and TV [...]

  • Noele trailer Anna Kendrick

    Disney Unveils 'Noelle' Trailer Starring Anna Kendrick, Bill Hader

    Among the many announcements at the D23 Expo, Disney debuted the first look at holiday feature “Noelle,” which is set to premiere exclusively on Disney Plus this fall. “It isn’t Christmas without Santa’s Sister,” Walt Disney Studios said of the film on Twitter. Starring Anna Kendrick and Bill Hader, the Christmas flick tells the story [...]

  • A Hidden Life Movie Austria

    Film News Roundup: Austin Festival Selects Terrence Malick's 'A Hidden Life'

    In today’s film news roundup, the Austin Film Festival selects a Terrence Malick title, “A Day Without a Mexican” gets a sequel and DCR Finance signs a first-look deal. FESTIVAL SCREENING The Austin Film Festival will screen Terrence Malick’s “A Hidden Life,” which won the Francois Chalais and Ecumenical Jury awards at the Cannes Film [...]

  • Blake Lively

    Blake Lively's 'Rhythm Section' Moved Back to 2020

    Paramount Pictures has moved the release date of Blake Lively’s “The Rhythm Section” back two months from Nov. 22 to Jan. 31, 2020, the weekend of Super Bowl LIV. The spy tale, adapted from Mark Burnell’s novels surrounding character Stephanie Patrick, is produced by James Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson through their [...]

  • The Mandalorian

    'The Mandalorian': Watch the First Trailer for 'Star Wars' Series

    The gunslinging lone warrior — the Mandalorian, as they call him — calls the far reaches of the “Star Wars” galaxy home. Disney dropped the first trailer for the spinoff series during its biennial D23 convention on Friday, finally giving fans a closer look at the franchise’s newest character. “The Mandalorian” creator Jon Favreau, who [...]

  • Lady and the Tramp trailer

    'Lady and the Tramp': Disney's Live-Action Remake Gets First Trailer (Watch)

    Ready your dog-friendly bowl of spaghetti, Disney has debuted the first trailer for its live-action remake of “Lady and the Tramp,” starring Tessa Thompson and Justin Theroux. The teaser was released during Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim at the Disney + presentation. In addition to Thompson and Theroux, who play the Lady and Tramp, respectively, [...]

  • Mickey Mouse waves to members of

    Spider-Man, Spicer and Splashy First-Looks: Everything We're Looking For at D23

    As if Disney hasn’t owned enough weekends this year at the box office, the biennial D23 Expo will light up Anaheim, Calif. over the next three days to celebrate the content monolith. From a new Netflix-competing streaming platform to scores of movie and series reveals — along with a few hot controversies to confront — [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content