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China Has No right in Choosing next Dalai Lama: Head of Tawang Monastery

The Head of Tawang Monastery said that China has no right to decide the next Dalai Lama as the current Dalai can take this decision. He said that Xi Jinping led Chinese administration  has no authority in choosing the next Dalai Lama especially since the Chinese government does not believe in religion and the succession is entirely a spiritual matter for the Tibetan people.

Gyangbung Rinpoche, the abbot of the nearly 350-year-old Tawang monastery near India’s border with China, also said that it is important to counter Beijing’s policy of expansionism and New Delhi must maintain a strict vigil over the line of actual control (LAC) with the neighbouring country.

The head of the second largest monastery in the world after the Potala Palace in Tibet’s Lhasa said only the current Dalai Lama and the Tibetan people have the right to decide about the succession of the Tibetan spiritual leader and China has no role to play in the matter.

“The Chinese government does not believe in religion. How can a government that does not believe in religion decide the next Dalai Lama? The succession plan is a matter of religion and faith; it is not a political issue,” he said.

“China does not have any right to even get involved in the process of choosing the next Dalai Lama. Only the current Dalai Lama and his followers have the right to decide on the issue,” he said.

The rinpoche said that the Tibetan people will never accept any decision on the issue by China, and that Beijing’s attempt to get involved is part of efforts to “capture” the Tibetan heritage and “hold control” over the Tibetan people.

“It will be difficult for China to win the hearts of the people of Tibet. China is tightly controlling Tibet. The authorities do not even allow people from outside to meet Tibetans. There are so many restrictions. It is important that countries like India support the Tibetans,” he said.

The issue of a successor to the 14th Dalai Lama, who has been living in exile in Dharamsala in India since 1959, gained traction as he turned 86 in July. The Dalai Lama is believed to be a living Buddha who is reincarnated after his death. 

China has been insisting that the selection of the next Dalai Lama has to be decided within Chinese territory, and that it has to have a say in the matter.

Referring to China’s aggressive posturing along the LAC, the rinpoche said though India believes in peace and prosperity, its approach in dealing with such belligerence has to be based on ground reality.

“India believes in peace and prosperity. India does not like to fight or to have hatred against any country. India believes in living in peace with the countries which share a border with it,” he said.

“India needs to maintain a strict vigil over the border. Though India believes in peace and prosperity, its approach has to be based on the ground reality. Regions like Tawang and Ladakh are part of India,” he said.

The religious leader said it is important to counter China’s policy of expansionism.

Beijing has in the past accused the Dalai Lama of indulging in “separatist” activities and trying to split Tibet and considers him as a divisive figure.

However, the Tibetan spiritual leader has insisted that he is not seeking independence but “genuine autonomy for all Tibetans living in the three traditional provinces of Tibet” under the “middle way approach.”

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