Skip to content

China Demands That the Dalai Lama Reincarnate

Some discussion has gone back and forth recently between Beijing and the Dalai Lama as to whether he will reincarnate after he passes away. Since last year, the Dalai Lama has expressed several times that the decision is up to the Tibetan people and he might not reincarnate if they feel it is not relevant. Beijing, however, has criticized his decision as "a betrayal to the country (China) and a betrayal of Tibetan Buddhism."

Tibetan Buddhism follows the "Living Buddha Reincarnation" system. When the current Dalai Lama leaves this world, his soul comes back to life through a young child. Traditionally, the Tibetan government and the Dalai Lama’s close followers search and identify the child. Then the Central Government (China) acknowledges the child officially as the Dalai Lama. These days, the Dalai Lama has expressed that he does not want any person or power, including China, to choose his successor out of "political motivation."

After the Dalai Lama expressed his desire to cease the reincarnation process, on December 18, 2014, Zhu Weiqun, Director of Religion of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and former Deputy Minister of the CCP’s United Front Work Department, criticized the Dalai Lama for this "double betrayal." He stated, "Only the Central Government can decide the existence or abolition of the Dalai Lama system. It is not something that the 14th Dalai Lama can decide."

Again, on March 11, 2015, at the national conference of the CPPCC, Zhu again blamed the Dalai Lama for the "double betrayal." He said the Dalai Lama was "irresponsible" and "showed no respect toward religion and the country (China)."

Lobsang Sangay, the head of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile countered, "The Chinese government’s determination of the reincarnation candidate is the equivalent of Fidel Castro saying, ‘I will appoint the next Pope; therefore, all Catholics should follow him.’ It is that ridiculous."

An Internet comment said, "The religious leader wants to terminate reincarnation, but the atheist Party scolded him harshly (and won’t allow him to do so). I can’t understand this at all."

1. Deutsche Welle Online, March 11, 2015中国政协高官再次高调抨击达赖喇嘛/a-18307177
2. World Journal, December 18, 2014達賴喇嘛要結束轉世-無神論中共怒斥/