China Says Dalai Lama Has to Reincarnate; Closes Tibet to Tourists

The governor of Tibet has spoken out against the Dalai Lama’s remarks that he may not be reincarnated upon his death, and says that he must respect Buddhist religious traditions, with the approval of the Communist Party. From Reuters:

Padma Choling, the Chinese-appointed governor of Tibet, said that the Dalai Lama had no right to abolish the institution of reincarnation, underscoring China’s hardline stance on one of the most sensitive issues for the restless and remote region.

“I don’t think this is appropriate. It’s impossible, that’s what I think,” he said on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s parliament, when asked about the Dalai Lama’s suggestion that his successor may not be his reincarnation.

“We must respect the historical institutions and religious rituals of Tibetan Buddhism,” said Padma Choling, a Tibetan and a former soldier in the People’s Liberation Army. “I am afraid it is not up to anyone whether to abolish the reincarnation institution or not.”

The Chinese government says it has to approve all reincarnations of living Buddhas, or senior religious figures in Tibetan Buddhism. It also says China has to sign off on the choosing of the next Dalai Lama.

Meanwhile, according to The Times of India, Chinese officials say they only expect “small shock waves” in Tibet upon the Dalai Lama’s death.

As part of the plan to increase development in Tibet and Xinjiang, the government has announced plans for a rail link between Lhasa and Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

As the three year anniversary of violent riots in Lhasa approaches, authorities have closed Tibet to tourists, the Guardian reports:

Zhang Qingli, the Communist party secretary in Tibet, said there were “some control measures” for safety reasons, citing potential overcrowding and freezing winter weather.

He told reporters at an annual political meeting in Beijing that the region was stable. “It’s not that the anti-Chinese forces and the Dalai clique haven’t thought of it but the fact is they haven’t been able to stir up any unrest since the March 14 incident.”

Twenty-two people, almost all Han Chinese, died when Tibetans took to the streets of the capital, Lhasa, in 2008, burning shops and attacking passers-by. Unrest rippled out across other Tibetan areas in western China.

Exiles allege that scores of Tibetans died in the ensuing crackdown. It has not been possible to verify the claims.