The Dalai Lama says Americans love Tibet. A new survey shows they feel pretty good about him, too.
The Tibetan spiritual leader is eighth on Gallup’s 2018 Most Admired Man list, marking his ninth appearance in the top 10.
The list, released today, is based on a survey that asked more than 1,000 adults across the United States which living person they admired most. Former US President Barack Obama came up first for the 11th consecutive year, while his wife, former first lady Michele Obama, topped the list of most admired women.
As a leader who for decades has advocated a peaceful solution to the Tibetan crisis—earning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989—and as an eloquent voice of compassion and tolerance across religions and cultures, the Dalai Lama is often voted as one of the most respected figures around the globe.
He is greatly beloved in the United States, where his popularity and the righteousness of his cause has helped gain the American public’s support for Tibet, a historically independent country that China has occupied and ruled with an iron fist for nearly 70 years.
The news that the Dalai Lama was once again on Gallup’s list came just days after he spoke about America’s commitment to Tibet during an interview with the Hindustan Times of India.
The interviewer asked the Dalai Lama for his reaction to the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act, a new law in the US that takes aim at China’s isolation of Tibet.
The bipartisan law—which requires the State Department to deny US visas for Chinese officials who are responsible for keeping Americans out of Tibetan regions—was unanimously approved by both the House of Representatives and the Senate and signed into law earlier this month by President Trump.
The Dalai Lama, who retired from his political role in 2011 but remains the head of Tibetan Buddhism, said he was not in a position to comment.
However, he said, “both the US houses [of Congress] have been strong supporters of Tibet over the decades and so has been the American government. American people love Tibet.”
“His Holiness the Dalai Lama is one of the most beloved figures in the United States–and in the world—and the great reverence for him shows that enthusiasm for Tibet remains strong among the American people,” said Matteo Mecacci, president of the International Campaign for Tibet. “The unanimous approval of the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act demonstrates that the US government has a strong interest not only to address the lack of reciprocity in US-China relations, but also to keep Tibet at the center of it. The Dalai Lama’s appearance on Gallup’s list shows that the people of the United States continue to support this Nobel Peace Laureate’s peaceful advocacy of the Tibetan people’s right to preserve their own identity and culture.”