China Warns Dalai Lama About Choosing Successor

Following the Dalai Lama’s announcement that he would determine the procedure for finding his successor when he is about 90 years old, and that the Chinese government would have no role in the process, Beijing has fired back, calling his actions “illegal” under Chinese law. From VOA:

The Chinese foreign ministry warned the Dalai Lama Monday that only Beijing can approve his successor.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei says any decision by the Dalai Lama to appoint a successor through traditional reincarnation would break Chinese law.

He insists that China endorses a policy of religious freedom including respecting and protecting succession in Tibetan Buddhism leadership. But Hong stresses China’s historical claim to its rule over Tibet and says the title of Dalai Lama is only conferred by the central government in Beijing and is illegal otherwise.

An editorial in Xinhua lays out the government’s argument:

The reincarnation of Living Buddhas has always followed strict historical conventions and religious rituals, and all the Dalai Lamas have been approved by China’s central regime since 1653.

Now the 14th Dalai Lama, eager to pass on his “Tibet independence” attempt, is ready to defy these rituals.

Obviously, he’s facing the biggest challenge: whether he is truly willing to retire from politics, most probably into obscurity in Dharamsala, the northern Indian town where his “government-in-exile” is based.

The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and published author of several books preaching for “Tibet independence” and reviling China’s ruling Communist Party, is apparently reluctant to retire from politics and the spotlight — though the high monk should know what truly matters for a Buddhist.

Meanwhile, in Sichuan’s Aba Prefecture, two Tibetan monks reportedly set themselves on fire to protest China’s policies in Tibet and to show support for the Dalai Lama. One of the monks is the younger brother of another monk who killed himself by self-immolation in March, USA Today reports:

The London-based Free Tibet campaign said Lobsang Kalsang and Lobsang Konchok, both believed to be 18 or 19 years old, self-immolated Monday at the Kirti Monastery in Sichuan province’s Aba prefectuture.

The monks allegedly called for religious freedom and said “long live the Dalai Lama” before they set themselves on fire, Free Tibet said in an emailed statement.

The official Xinhua News Agency said in a brief report that did not identify the monks by name that both were rescued by police, suffered slight burns and were in stable condition.

Lobsang Kelsang is the brother of Rigzin Phuntsog, a 21-year-old Kirti monk who died March 16 after setting himself on fire, said Free Tibet. Phuntsog’s death was seen as a protest against China’s heavy-handed controls on Tibetan Buddhism and provoked a standoff between security forces and monks.

In South Africa, officials haven’t decided whether to allow the Dalai Lama to visit the country to attend birthday celebrations for this fellow Nobel laureate Desmond Tutu. From the Washington Post:

South Africa officials may block the Dalai Lama from celebrating the 80th birthday of his friend and fellow Nobel Peace Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, amid fears that Chinese pressure is trumping the country’s much-vaunted policies on freedom of speech and human rights.

South African newspapers are already drawing parallels between the situations of Tibetans under Chinese rule and black South Africans under the racist apartheid regime that ended in 1994. The tensions over the Dalai Lama’s visa application also are a sign of how powerful China’s influence has grown in Africa.

“Our leadership has a clear choice: to look deep into the African soul and emulate (Nelson) Mandela’s actions by extending a hand of friendship, while at the same time understanding that it won’t, in fact, have any real impact on our relations with China,” said an editorial in the Daily Maverick.

“Or, once again to yield as the people who will submit to the will of another nation, to constrict our spirit and our standing as a moral society, and close our doors on a genuine man of peace and the justified hopes of his people.”

September 26, 2011 11:27 AM
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