The advisory board of the Tibetan government-in-exile released a statement celebrating the 84th birthday of the Dalai Lama on Saturday.

“We Tibetans are eternally grateful to the lineage of the Dalai Lamas and ever more so to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama for being our ray of hope and our source of strength in our times of darkness,” it said.

The statement said that, 60 years into exile, Tibetan cultural identity has been revived and preserved, a full-fledged democratic Central Tibetan Administration has been established, and “the spirit of Tibetans inside and outside Tibet remain strong and united.”

It added that the “Middle Way Approach” in resolving the Tibet issue through dialogue continues to be widely supported by many countries.

Born on July 6, 1935, in northeastern Tibet, the exiled spiritual leader was recognized as the reincarnation of the 13th Dalai Lama, Thubten Gyatso, at the age of 2.

In March 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama fled to India following a failed Tibetan uprising in 1959 against China’s control of the Buddhist region high in the Himalayas. He later set up the government-in-exile in Dharamsala, northern India.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989 for his non-violent campaign for Tibet democracy and its people’s freedom but China always considers him as a hostile being for splitting Tibet from China. The Chinese government regards him as a dangerous separatist.

Succession plans for the octogenarian have been an issue of interest in recent years.

In April this year, he was discharged from a hospital in India’s capital New Delhi where he had been diagnosed with a chest infection.