'It is never too late for him to come back to the right track,' it said
China today asked the Dalai Lama to give up his bid to divide the country and said it was "never too late" to return to the "right track" as the Tibetan spiritual leader turned 81.
"Dalai Lama has been engaging in separatist activities," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a media conference here, reacting to the Dalai Lama's comments advocating a "middle path" policy of providing more autonomy to Tibet as a solution to the Tibetan issue.
"We hope that the Dalai Lama can give up his attempt to divide China and it is never too late for him to come back to the right track," Hong said.
The Chinese government, which has in the past held talks with the Dalai Lama's representatives, views the autonomy demand as a ploy leading towards separation.
Chinese officials have in the recent past said the Dalai Lama's demand to unify all Tibetan prefectures with the Tibetan Autonomous Region and provide it greater autonomy is unacceptable to Beijing.
There have been no talks between the two sides in the last few years.
The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile in Dharamsala since a failed 1959 uprising in Tibet, has called for more Tibetan autonomy rather than independence.
China maintains he is a "wolf in monk's clothing" and is against foreign leaders meeting him in any form.
When President Xi Jinping took over power in 2013, the Tibetan spiritual leader recalled his association with Xi's family and hoped that the dialogue would be resumed.
Over 120 Tibetans have immolated themselves in recent years, calling for the return of the Dalai Lama from exile in India.
Born on July 6, 1935, in Taktser, China, the 14th Dalai Lama, is one of the longest-serving Dalai Lamas.
He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989.