The present spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama, will be replaced, but the president of the Tibetan government-in-exile has cautioned China not to meddle in the process.
In a recent interview with Kyodo News, Penpa Tsering stated that “no government should have any role in this spiritual matter and I think it is much wiser for China (not to interfere),” adding that the 14th Dalai Lama will eventually decide on the successor.
Tsering questioned “how can China have a hand in that” given that the Tibetan government-in-exile has “nothing to do” with the choosing procedure. But he added that he hadn’t “directly” questioned the Dalai Lama about it.
Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama, escaped to India in March 1959, shortly after an unsuccessful revolt by Tibetans against China’s rule over the Buddhist area high in the Himalayas. Later, he created an administration in exile in Dharamsala, India.
One of the main points of contention between Tibetans and Beijing, which views the Dalai Lama as a rebel who seeks to split Tibet from China, is who will succeed the 87-year-old spiritual leader. Tibetan Buddhists believe that the chosen replacement will be a rebirth of the spiritual leader.
As part of a heritage left by its rulers, China claims to have the unique power to determine who the reincarnations of Tibetan Buddhist religious leaders, including the Dalai Lama, are.
The Tibetans, however, will not accept a replacement chosen by China, according to the Dalai Lama.
Tsering, who was chosen to serve as the government-in-exile’s second president in 2021, repeated his demand for communication with the administration of Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who was recently voted to an unprecedented third term as president.
Tsering also emphasized the significance of the Dalai Lama’s “middle way approach,” which wants a nonviolent settlement of the Tibet problem with the Chinese government by identifying a basis for coexistence.
Through a “17-point agreement,” Tibetans and the Chinese government have been attempting to settle the dispute over Tibet’s position within China since 1951, but little has been accomplished.
Tsering stated that according to his government, Xi’s policy only prioritizes “economic development” and ignores the “aspiration of their own people.”
Tsering continued that it is critical now more than ever to educate the foreign world about Tibet’s past. We modified our strategy because, in light of current Chinese rhetoric, everyone believes that Tibet has been a component of China for a very long time.