A Chinese Communist Party official is asserting that the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, the 79-year-old Dalai Lama, is losing influence while insisting he is betraying his religion by saying he will not reincarnate at this death.
Speaking at the sidelines of a yearly legislature meeting, Tibet regional assembly leader Padma Choling insisted that religion and history "ought to be respected" in terms of reincarnation.
As China's all powerful Communist Party officially espouses atheism one of its senior officials sounding off on life after death has drawn widespread attention.
A senior political advisor said March 11 that the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama has to be endorsed by the Chinese government rather than himself, criticizing him for "dual betrayal" to both his motherland and his faith.
"The reincarnation of the Dalai Lama has to be endorsed by the central government, not by any other sides including the Dalai Lama himself," said Zhu Weiqun, the State-run Xinhua News agency reported.
Zhu is head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the national political advisory body.
"It's not up to the Dalai Lama," said Choling, chairman of the Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Regional People's Congress, after a panel discussion with other Tibetan lawmakers in Beijing.
Choling referred to an earlier pronouncement of the 14th Dalai Lama, who in December said his traditional religious role should cease with his death, if his successor turns out to be weak.
The Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959 after the Communist Party seized control of the region, had said such a successor would only bring shame to the position of leaders of Tibet's Buddhists.
"If a weak Dalai Lama comes along, then it will just disgrace the Dalai Lama," he said.
For Choling, upsetting the tradition would not only send instability in Tibet, but also disrupt the reincarnation system that "has been honored for hundreds of years in Tibet."
"What he claimed is blasphemy against the Tibetan Buddhism," the official said.
"If he says no reincarnation, then no reincarnation? Impossible. Nobody in Tibetan Buddhism would agree to that," he noted, the Times of India reported. "We must respect history, respect and not profane Tibetan Buddhism."
The official insisted that the reincarnation should be approved by the Communist Party.
At present, the party-backed Panchen Lama is the de facto spiritual leader of Tibet, but many followers of Tibetan Buddhism do not recognize him since the Chinese government installed him instead of the one appointed by the Dalai Lama.