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Central authority has final say on reincarnation

Experts have stressed the role of the central government in the Tibetan Buddhism system of reincarnation, saying it’s a historical convention that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and other living Buddhas is subject to approval of the country’s central authority.

HOU LIQIANG/China Daily/ANN |

Experts have stressed the role of the central government in the Tibetan Buddhism system of reincarnation, saying it’s a historical convention that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama and other living Buddhas is subject to approval of the country’s central authority.

They made the remarks at the International Webinar on the Religious Rituals and Historical Customs of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas on Monday.

Sponsored by three Chinese institutions, including the China Society for Human Rights Studies, the webinar was held on the sidelines of the 51st session of the United Nations Human Rights Council.

For years, out of”political motivations”, the Dalai group has consistently hyped up topics about the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, claiming that the 14th Dalai Lama has the authority to decide his reincarnation and the central government has no right to “interfere”, said Fang Sanping, associate fellow from the Sichuan Tibetology Institute.

He stressed that the claim has violated the historical convention.

Since the founding of the reincarnation system in the 13th century, leaders of different religious sects of Tibetan Buddhism and grand living Buddhas have all been granted by central governments of different dynasties, he said.

Since Emperor Shunzhi, the first emperor of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) to enter Beijing, conferred the title to the 5th Dalai Lama, he said, it has been established that all enthronements of the reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas should be approved by the central government.

The enthronement of the 14th Dalai Lama himself in 1940 also followed this established procedure, Fang added.

After hundreds of years of development, there have been complete religious rituals and historical customs for the system of the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation.

“The core of the system is the central government is the supreme authority with the right of final decision,” he stressed.

In 2020, then-US president Donald Trump signed the”Tibetan Policy and Support Act of 2020″, which claimed that the person who reincarnates has sole legitimate authority over “where and how he or she takes rebirth and how that reincarnation is to be recognized and if there is a need for a 15th Dalai Lama.” Since 2021, the US has introduced more bills on the reincarnation issue.

The US actions have interfered in China’s internal affairs, said Wang Yanzhong, director of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The US surely knows the religious rituals and historical customs of the Tibetan Buddhism system of reincarnation, Wang said.

The country, however, has attempted to impose its own policies and will on the convention that has been in place for hundreds of years and on China’s laws and regulations.