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Former top Chinese official in Tibet denies taking bribes to create ‘living Buddhas’

March 29, 2016

South China Morning Post, March 28, 2016 - Zhu Weiqun, a senior official known for his harsh criticisms of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, has denied accusations that he received huge bribes to grant approvals for people to become living Buddhas, dismissing the claims as a “vulgar smear”.

The overseas Chinese website BowenPress said over the weekend that Zhu was under investigation by China’s graft busters for allegedly granting the status of “living Buddha” in exchange for cash.

Zhu was China’s chief official on Tibetan issues between 1998 and 2013 as vice minister at the Communist Party’s United Front Work Department. He has since been named chairman of the ethnic and religious affairs committee of the government’s top political advisory body.

Zhu told the state-run Global Times newspaper he had no idea who was behind the smears, but he believed the accusations were targeted at his “long-term battle with the splittist Dalai clique”, which only made him “proud” of his work.

Zhu said the government has a set of rules to authorise living Buddhas based on historical and religious practices and he has strictly followed the policies and regulations.

Zhu has on many occasions asserted that the Chinese government has the sole authority to decide on the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.

The Tibetan spiritual leaders has said he thinks the title could end when he dies, but Zhu said the current Dalai Lama had no right to abandon reincarnation.

China’s communist government announced in January it has compiled a database of 870 “verified” living Buddhas, which left the Dalai Lama off the list.

Zhu told state media that fake living Buddhas have posed a threat to national security as they use money they collect to sponsor illegal and separatist activities in Tibet.

China’s government says the Dalai Lama is a separatist intent on splitting the nation. He says he merely wants greater autonomy for Tibet and respect for its religion and culture.

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