The successor of the Dalai Lama has to be decided within China and any interference by India on the issue will impact bilateral ties, Chinese authorities have said.
In first clear assertion on the sensitive issue, senior Chinese officials and experts said the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama must be approved by the Chinese government and the selection should take place within the country based on an over 200-year old historical process.
“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.
Echoing Wang’s views, Zha Luo, director at Beijing-based China Tibetology Research Centre, a government-run influential think tank, said any refusal by India to recognise the next Dalai Lama to be chosen within China will impact bilateral ties.
The 14th Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959 following a crackdown on an uprising by the local population in Tibet. India granted him political asylum and the Tibetan government-in-exile is based on Dharamsala in Himachal Pradesh since then.
The Dalai Lama is 84 years old now and the issue of his successor has gained prominence in the last couple of years.
“It will be a major political difference that would impact bilateral relations and any wise political leader wouldn’t do that,” said Zha whose team advises the Chinese government on policy issues for Tibet .
He was asked what will happen if India refuses to recognize the next Dalai Lama chosen by China.
“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,” he added.
Zha, however, called it a hypothetical answer to a hypothetical question.
India has maintained its stand on the Dalai Lama.
“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,” said the spokesperson of Ministry of External Affairs in March last year.
The Indian government had issued a note nearly a year back to senior officials, asking them not to attend events organised by the Tibetan government-in-exile.
India has also been supporting the ‘One China’ policy, which states that Taiwan and Tibet are part of China’s mainland. Beijing made the ‘One-China’ policy a prerequisite for countries to establish diplomatic ties with it.