Gauhati: The exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader says it’s up to his followers to decide whether the office of the Dalai Lama exists in the future.

In a speech to tens of thousands of his followers on Saturday in the northeast Indian town of Tawang — the second-highest seat of Tibetan Buddhism — the Dalai Lama denied that he had any knowledge of where his successor would be born.

Asked if the next Dalai Lama could be a woman, he said, “That might also happen."

Also Read: Dalai Lama row: China accuses India of ‘fuelling tensions’

China’s leadership insists it has the authority to appoint the Dalai Lama’s successor after his death.

The Dalai Lama is on a weeklong visit to the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh despite objections by China, which considers the state a disputed region.