And now the empire strikes back- Reuters covers the comments coming from Chinese officialdom in the wake of the reincarnation ruling issued by the Dalai Lama and presumably OK’d by the most important Tibetan Buddhist leaders:
“The reincarnation of living Buddhas is a form of succession special to Tibetan Buddhism, and the policies of freedom of religious belief observed by China naturally include respecting and protecting this form of succession in Tibetan Buddhism,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told a regular briefing.
“There has never been the case of a previous Dalai determining the next Dalai. At the same time, the Chinese government has already issued rules about religious affairs and the administration of reincarnation of living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism,” he added.
“The reincarnation of any living Buddha, including the Dalai Lama, should respect the religious rules, historical standards and state laws and regulations.”
The Chinese government says it has to approve all reincarnations of living Buddhas, or senior religious figures in Tibetan Buddhism. It also says China has to sign off on the choosing of the next Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama, in a statement posted on his website over the weekend, said the question of leadership reincarnation should be decided in another 15 years or so by himself and other leaders of Tibetan Buddhism.
The demand of China’s atheist rulers that they had to recognise reincarnations was “outrageous and disgraceful”, he said.
They’re playing this one all wrong. If they want to convince a handful of Tibetans and perhaps some foreigners, they need to play down the role of the government and just talk about the importance of the Panchen Lama and a ceremony in the Jokhang or something. They control both of those, so that’s the only way even the slightest shred of legitimacy could be conferred on their choice. Going on about how a bunch of so-called communists in an office in Beijing have “always” selected the Dalai Lama is just too obviously untrue, and citing legal regulations about reincarnation makes them sound like idiots. If this is their plan for creating a convincing Dalai Lama, they’ll lose.