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Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK
Tibetans denounce China's plans for lama
Dalai Lama
Buddhists believe the Dalai Lama is a reincarnation of his former self
The Tibetan government-in-exile has told BBC News Online it will never accept China's plans to choose the next Dalai Lama.

The body dismissed as "daydreams" China's reported decision to invoke a selection process based on historical and religious Buddhist rituals after the current high lama dies.

This is an example of traditional Tibetan Buddhist procedures being hijacked by the Chinese authorities

Kate Saunders Tibet Information Network
Traditionally, a successor to the Dalai Lama has been identified by Buddhist priests as a reincarnation of his former self derived from cryptic clues left by the previous spiritual leader during his lifetime.

But the official Chinese news agency Xinhua said Ragdi, the Tibetan Deputy Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, has announced the next Dalai Lama would be chosen from among several candidates by lots drawn from a golden urn.

However, a spokesman for the Tibetan government-in-exile denounced the plans as illegitimate.

"A regime that regards religion as a poison in society has no right at all to interfere in the religious affairs of the Tibetan people," Migyur Dorjee told BBC News Online.

Conflicting claims?

Xinhua quoted Ragdi as saying that "acts that violate historical customs and religious rituals will be deemed void" and the final choice of leader would be ratified by the Chinese Government.

Ragdi: The Chinese Government will ratify the next Dalai Lama
Such a move would set the regime on a collision course with Tibet's Buddhist population and possibly lead to two rival claimants to the office of high lama.

The Tibet Information Network (TIN), which describes itself as an independent news and research centre, said the Chinese Government wants to create the impression its actions are in accordance with Tibetan traditions.

"Religious freedom in Tibet remains subordinate to the political and economic considerations of the state. This is an example of traditional Tibetan Buddhist procedures being hijacked by the Chinese authorities for their own political purposes," TIN spokesperson Kate Saunders told BBC News Online.

A previous attempt by China in 1995 to choose a successor to the second highest Buddhist leader, the Panchen Lama, by drawing lots failed to win popular support among Tibetans.

See also:

23 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Tibet palace to get Chinese monument
05 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Panchen Lama visits Shanghai
23 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Dalai Lama: Spiritual leader in exile
23 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
US backs Dalai Lama
23 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Tibet: Flashback to the Chinese 'deal'
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