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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China says it must approve Dalai Lama reincarnation

March 15, 2009

Thu Mar 12, 2009 11:38pm IST

By Emma Graham-Harrison

BEIJING (Reuters) - A top Chinese official warned on Friday that the
central government in Beijing must approve the Dalai Lama's
reincarnation, and would not recognise any candidate that it had not
endorsed, the official Xinhua agency said.

The Dalai Lama's succession has become a prickly issue, as the Nobel
Prize winner ages and his health declines.

He has suggested that his incarnation might be found outside China, or
even that Tibetans themselves could order a vote on whether to continue
an institution that once gave one monk both spiritual and temporal sway
over Tibet.

But the Chinese leadership appears determined not to cede any kind of
authority to a candidate beyond their control.

Qiangba Puncog, chairman of the Tibetan regional government, said that
the selection of the next Dalai Lama must follow "historical
conventions" including an endorsement from Beijing.

"If the Dalai Lama does not follow the convention for political or other
purposes, I believe his reincarnation would not be acknowledged by
religious people in Tibet, and the central government will never approve
it," Qiangba Puncog said.

"The conventions were formed in history, and have a set of
comprehensive, complicated and strict rules," he said on the sidelines
of China's Parliament, where he is a delegate.

According to Beijing, the Dalai Lama's incarnation must be chosen by
drawing lots from a gold urn given to Tibetans by the ethnic Manchu
emperors of the Qing dynasty.

Only the central government can exempt a prospective lama from the
ritual, laid out in 1793 in the "29-Article Ordinance for the More
Efficient Governing of Tibet", Xinhua added.

"The Dalai Lama's ever-changing stances are against the historical and
religious traditions," Qiangba Puncog said.

However if the Tibetan government-in-exile and the monasteries
associated with it chose a Dalai Lama not recognised by the Chinese
government, Beijing may struggle to win the allegiance of Tibetans in
China for its candidate.

RIVAL RISKS

China chose a rival incarnation to succeed the late 10th Panchen Lama
shortly after the Dalai Lama announced his choice in 1995. China's
Panchen Lama is spurned by most Tibetans as a fake.

The whereabouts of the Dalai Lama-recognised Panchen Lama remain
unknown. Chinese authorities in the past have insisted he is safe,
healthy and wants his privacy.

Many Tibetans fear that the death of the Dalai Lama, who has lived in
exile in India since 1959 when he fled after a failed uprising, may
create a leadership vacuum that Beijing could exploit to tighten its
grip over the restive Himalayan region.

Others fear the loss of their most recognised leader could weaken the
unity of the Tibetan movement, and potentially trigger widespread unrest
in ethnic Tibetan regions across China.

Many exiled Tibetans reject the Dalai Lama's "Middle Way" approach that
advocates greater autonomy for Tibet within China, and have called for
more aggressive confrontation with Beijing, even armed struggle.
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