Beijing (AsiaNews) – In a white paper, the State Council Information Office said that the Dalai Lama must focus on seeking its “forgiveness,” noting that Tibet’s autonomy is “not up for discussion”. In so doing, President Xi Jimping’s administration has clearly rejected the Dalai Lama’s calls for dialogue and is signalling its intention of pursuing a policy of repression in Tibet.
“Any negotiations will be limited to seeking solutions for the Dalai Lama to completely abandon separatist claims and activities and gain the forgiveness of the central government and the Chinese people, and to working out what he will do with the rest of his life,” the white paper says.
“As the political status and system of Tibet is stipulated by the Chinese Constitution and laws, the ‘Tibet issue’ and ‘a high degree of autonomy’ are not up for discussion,” it added.
The paper however does not mention Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s successor.
According to Buddhist monastic tradition, his reincarnation – the 15th Dalai Lama – should be recognised by clerics picked by the Panchen Lama, the second highest ranking leader in Tibetan Buddhism.
However, Beijing abducted Gyancain Norbu in 1995, who had been named by the current Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, and installed another one in his place.
By breaking the chain between the two spiritual powers, China hoped to manipulate the recognition of the next Buddhist leader and thus close the issue on Tibet.
Many religious leaders and experts reject China’s interference, claiming that it cannot choose the Dalai Lama’s successor.
Indeed, Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama, said that his reincarnation would be recognised by new methods, although so far he has not indicated what those methods would be.
For the current Karmapa Lama, leader of the Diamond Way Buddhism and third highest ranking leader in Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is the only one who can decide the matter of his reincarnation.
In an interview he said, “In Tibetan traditions, we don't talk much about the reincarnation of a living master”. Thus, “it is only the Dalai Lama himself who should decide about his future reincarnation. So I am confident and have full trust in his decision.”
For Tenzin Norgay, a senior fellow at the Tibet Policy Institute based in India, Beijing’s meddling is making things worse.
"The unique Tibetan reincarnation system of religious figures is an indigenous system built on the people's faith in rebirth,” he wrote recently.
In practice, if China tries to impose its own Dalai Lama, people will simply not follow him, making the whole thing pointless.