Jul 16, 2019

Tibet: China Assumes Control over Choosing Dalai Lama's Successor

The exiled Tibetan government in India will not be allowed to choose the successor of their spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, Chinese authorities have stated. Instead, Chinese officials claim that the selection of a successor will need approval from the Chinese government and has to take place within Chinese territory, demonstrating the tight control of China’s Communist Party on all Buddhist religious activities in Chinese-controlled Tibet.

Below is an article published by TimesNowNews:

Chinese authorities on Sunday [14 July 2019] asserted that the successor of spiritual leader Dalai Lama will be chosen within China and warned India that any interference from its side could hamper bilateral ties.

Commenting on the sensitive issue, senior Chinese officials and experts claimed that the Chinese government has to approve the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. They stated that as per an over 200-year-old tradition, the selection of the Dalai Lama has to take place within the country’s territory.

Wang Neng Sheng, an official in the rank of vice minister in Tibet was quoted as saying, “The reincarnation of the Dalai Lama is a historical, religious and political issue. There are established historical institutions and formalities for the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.” 

He further claimed that the Dalai Lama's reincarnation was not selected by his “personal wish” or “some group of people living in other countries.”

The current Dalai Lama was recognised by Beijing, Wang, who is director general at the government of Tibet Autonomous Region, stated. He added that the spiritual leader’s successor has to be selected through the "draw of lots in the golden urn process" within China.

Wang's opinion found support from Zha Lou, director at Beijing-based China Tibetology Research Centre, a government-run influential think tank, who alleged that China's bilateral ties with India could be impacted if the country fails to recognise the next Dalai Lama who will be chosen within China.

“It will be a major political difference that would impact bilateral relations and any wise political leader wouldn't do that,” Zha was quoted as saying by a news agency. His team is tasked with advising central government on policy issues for Tibet.

He had added, “Since the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama is an important issue for China any friendly country or friend of China would not interfere or meddle on the issue.”

After a crackdown by Chinese authorities on a rebellion by the local population in Tibet, the 14th Dalai Lama had escaped to India in 1959. Following this, the Dalai Lama was granted political asylum in India, with the Tibetan government-in-exile getting established in Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh since then.

As the Dalai Lama is now 84 years old, the issue of his successor has become a focal point of discussion in the last few years. 

Meanwhile, India has maintained its stand on the Dalai Lama that he has been granted all freedom to carry out his religious activities in India.

In a statement in March last year [2018], the MEA had said, "Government of India's position on His Holiness the Dalai Lama is clear and consistent. He is a revered religious leader and is deeply respected by the people of India. There is no change in that position. His Holiness is accorded all freedom to carry out his religious activities in India."


Picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons