No Leeway Given in Picking Dalai LamaBy EDWARD WONG
Published: March 7, 2010
LinkedinDiggFacebookMixxMySpaceYahoo! BuzzPermalink. BEIJING — The new governor of
Tibet said Sunday that the Dalai Lama did not have a right to choose his successor however he wanted, but instead must abide by the “requirements” of Tibetan Buddhist tradition, Xinhua, the state news agency, reported.
Ng Han Guan/Associated Press
Padma Choling, Tibet's new governor, seemed to harden the government's stance. Related
Times Topic: Dalai LamaThe governor, Padma Choling, speaking at a news conference during the National People’s Congress, appeared to harden the Chinese government’s position on one of the most delicate issues involving the future of the Tibetan regions in the west. The government has already ruled that the next Dalai Lama must be approved by the government. The governor’s comments on Sunday made it even more likely that the current Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, will be succeeded by two new Dalai Lamas, one chosen by Tibetan religious leaders in exile and another by the Chinese government. Despite China’s efforts to brand the Dalai Lama a Machiavellian separatist, many Tibetans continue to revere him and resent the fact that his image is officially banned throughout China. But the Dalai Lama, who lives in India, is 74, and it is unclear how his reincarnation will be chosen. Historically, the reincarnation has been selected by monks relying on mystical signs, but many Tibetans fear the Chinese government will try to hijack the process.
The Dalai Lama has said the process could break with tradition, including by having the next Dalai Lama, the 15th one, identified and trained while he is still alive. He has also said his successor could be female or found outside Tibet.
Chinese officials have insisted that the selection process must adhere to elaborate rituals rooted in the landscape of Tibet, which China controls.
“It is unreasonable to do whatever he wants,” Padma Choling said of the Dalai Lama’s ideas. “There’s no way for him to do so.”
He added: “The 14th Dalai Lama is still alive, and I think there is no need now to excessively talk about his reincarnation.”
Padma Choling, an ethnic Tibetan, was appointed governor and chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region in January, but he reports to Zhang Qingli, an ethnic Han who is the regional secretary of the Communist Party. The top position in Tibet always goes to a Han, the ethnic majority in China.
Tibetans in exile say they are bracing for the likelihood that there will be two people claiming the title of Dalai Lama.
A similar dispute exists over the current Panchen Lama, the second-ranking leader of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, behind the Dalai Lama. In 1995, after the Dalai Lama named a boy in Tibet as the reincarnation of the previous Panchen Lama, the Chinese government whisked away the boy and his family and installed another Tibetan boy in the post.
Padma Choling said Sunday that the Panchen Lama picked by the Dalai Lama was illegitimate and invalid, Xinhua reported. Many Tibetans say the Panchen Lama selected by the Chinese government is a fraud.
The Dalai Lama has also long been a flashpoint in relations between China and other nations.
China, for example, criticized President Obama for meeting with the Dalai Lama in the White
House last month.