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Lobsang Sangay, President of the Central Tibetan Administration (Tibetan Government in Exile) dismissed the Chinese claims on appointing the next Dalai Lama and said that it is Tibetans who have ‘copyright’ over his reincarnation, and Beijing plans to have a ‘duplicate’ copy.

“Communist Party of China has zero credibility, as far as reincarnation is concerned. Communist Party believes in Atheism. They say religion is poison, why do they want to interfere in our internal affairs?”

He further added by saying that “for almost 1000 years, we the Tibetans have selected our own reincarnate lamas, including the Dalai Lamas. So we have the patent and the copyright over the reincarnation. So we are the original and Chinese will have duplicate.”

China, supposedly keen to increase its influence in Tibetan Buddhism has said that it’ll appoint the next Dalai Lama, the 15th in the line of succession. The current, 14th, Dalai Lama had to leave Tibet in 1959 after the region was occupied by China.

The United States’ recently said that the Chinese government shouldn’t interfere in the succession process of the Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama and branded it as an “outrageous abuse of religious freedom”.

The role of Dalai Lama has been a key to Tibetan Buddhism for more than 600 years but has recently become a political lightning rod in China. The centuries old reincarnation system is built on Tibetans’ belief in rebirth and the Dalai Lama has been reincarnated 13 times since 1391. However, with the current Dalai Lama in exile, China has sought to ensure that the next reincarnated Lama will be in line with its own political aims. Over the years, the Dalai Lama has floated a number of options of reincarnation, ranging from picking a new successor in India, instead of Tibet, to not picking a reincarnated successor at all and ending the centuries old system. Regardless of that, it is likely that the CCP will move to pick a new Dalai Lama in Tibet which could lead to two separate Dalai Lamas being chosen.

While the 14th Dalai Lama is reportedly in good health, he is now 85 and questions over his succession are growing along with fears that his death could spark a crisis in Asia and bring the issue of Tibet to the center stage in the region.

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