The Dalai Lama was in breach of Buddhist religious protocol when he suggested he might appoint a successor before his death instead of relying on reincarnation, China's Foreign Ministry said.
The Dalai Lama, who is considered the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, told a Japanese newspaper during a visit to Tokyo that Tibetans would not accept a successor who was selected by China after his death.
"We believe the Dalai Lama's remarks violate religious rituals and historic conventions," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao told a regular news conference.
China has considered the Dalai Lama a traitor since he fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
The selection of lamas has since become a sore point between the two sides.
In 1995, the Dalai Lama and Chinese authorities chose rival reincarnations of the 10th Panchen Lama, who died in 1989. The 6-year-old anointed by the Dalai Lama disappeared from public view, and is thought to have lived under house arrest ever since.
Critics have accused China of putting off holding talks over the future of Tibet with the Dalai Lama, who is 72, and say the Communist Party is waiting for his death. The government could then name a Dalai Lama of its choosing.
Government regulations that came into force on September 1 make reincarnations of "living Buddhas" in Tibet, who fail to get Chinese government approval, illegal and invalid.