By Tenzin Dharpo
Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama. file photo
DHARAMSHALA, July 15: In what is being seen as yet another attempt by China to assert legitimacy over the reincarnation of the exiled Tibetan leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a senior Chinese official has said that New Delhi must recognize the Beijing appointed 15th Dalai Lama or risk “major political differences” between the two nations.
“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,” said Wang Neng Sheng, Director General at the government of Tibet Autonomous Region.
“The current Dalai Lama was recognized by Beijing and his successor must be found through the “draw of lots in golden urn process” within China. The Dalai Lama’s reincarnation is not decided by his personal wish or by some group of people living in other countries,” he added.
In stark contrast, the Dalai Lama himself has on numerous occasions asserted that the authority over his reincarnation rests solely upon himself, while adding that China may very well mint their own candidate in the future. Speaking to Reuters in March 2019, he said, “In future, in case you see two Dalai Lamas come, one from here, in free country, one chosen by Chinese, then nobody will trust, nobody will respect (the one chosen by China). So that's an additional problem for the Chinese! It's possible, it can happen.”
He has also said that the future of the institution of the Dalai Lama will be decided by the Tibetan people. The 84-year-old signalled that his reincarnation will be born in a place where there is no Chinese government influence.
The Chinese government has made similar dictums in the past to assert legitimacy over not only the Dalai Lama who is seen as the foremost Buddhist figure but all reincarnate lamas within occupied Tibet. Beijing has gone so far as to create a database of Tibetan Buddhist lamas and thereby bestowing an “approval of the government” for those on the list.
Rejecting the claims by Beijing, Washington based pro-Tibet group, the International Campaign for Tibet earlier in March said, “Not only do the Chinese government’s claims completely disregard centuries-old Tibetan Buddhist religious tradition; they also obviously violate the universal principle of religious freedom. The regulations invoked by Beijing clearly do not meet international standards, as they openly deny the fundamental right of Tibetan Buddhist communities to follow their own spiritual process without government interference.”