A replica of the golden urns, found in Jokhang Temple and Potala Palace in Lhasa, from which the name of a successor to the Dalai Lama is chosen, in Beijing’s Museum of Tibetan Culture.
A replica of the golden urns, found in Jokhang Temple and Potala Palace in Lhasa, from which the name of a successor to the Dalai Lama is chosen, in Beijing’s Museum of Tibetan Culture.

Selection of the next Dalai Lama may test New Delhi-Beijing ties

  • China says it expects India not to recognize a successor to the Tibetan spiritual leader that it doesn't endorse
  • Historically, the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama must be recognized by China, says a govt official

LHASA : China will reject any reincarnation of the Dalai Lama born among Tibetan exiles in India or elsewhere, a senior Chinese government official and a representative of a leading Chinese government think tank separately said. China also expects India not to recognize any successor to the Tibetan spiritual leader chosen by the Tibetan government in exile who is not endorsed by China, these people said.

If India endorses a Dalai Lama chosen by the Tibetan government in exile, it would become a major political issue between the New Delhi and Beijing, the think tank representative added.

“The reincarnation of the Dalai Lama is a historical issue," Wang Neng Sheng, director general of the People’s Government Information Office of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China told a group of visiting Indian journalists in Lhasa, capital of the Tibet Autonomous Region on 8 July.

“It is the position of the Chinese government that the reincarnation cannot be decided by his (Dalai Lama) personal wish or some group of people living in other countries," Wang said.

“In history, it is the central government (of China) that played a leading role... the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama must be decided by choosing from the golden urn and must be recognized by the central government. Without recognition by the central government, the Dalai Lama does not have legal status," Wang said.

Even the current Dalai Lama was recognized by the Chinese government, he said.

Separately, Zha Luo, who heads the Beijing-based China Tibetology Research Centre (CTRC), told Indian journalists on Sunday that India formally recognizing any successor to the Dalai Lama not accepted by China would become a major political issue between the two countries.

When asked whether India recognizing the Dalai Lama’s successor could impact China-India relations, Zha said this would “be a major political difference between the two countries that would affect bilateral relations but any wise leader wouldn’t do that (recognize a Dalai Lama not recognized by China.)" But he later added that this was “hypothetical" answer to a “hypothetical question".

Zha’s colleague, Xiao Jie, assistant fellow at the Institute of Commentary Studies, CTRC, said that there was a well-established procedure for recognizing the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, considered a “living god" by Tibetans across the world.

One of the conditions was that the name of the successor was pulled out of golden urns found in the Jokhang Temple, one of the most sacred monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism situated in Lhasa, and the Potala Palace which was the residence of the Dalai Lama till he fled to India in 1959. The second was the reincarnation getting the approval of the Chinese government, Xiao said.

With the Tibetan government in exile in India not being able to fulfil these two conditions, Xiao said he was “puzzled" as to how it would be able to name a successor to the Dalai Lama after his passing.

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