A senior Chinese official has accused the Dalai Lama of “betraying” Tibet and the country's Buddhism after he suggested that he may not be reincarnated after he dies.
The Dalai Lama fled to India in 1959, after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.
China regards the Buddhist monk as a violent separatist, as dozens of Tibetans have set themselves alight to protest Chinese rule over the past six years. The Dalai Lama has, however, always denied encouraging the immolations and says that he wants genuine autonomy for Tibet.
Weiqun, chairman of the ethnic and religious affairs committee of the top advisory body to China's parliament, said on Wednesday that the spiritual figure had betrayed and was disrespectful towards the Tibetan religion and the country by saying that reincarnations may no longer happen.
Followers of Tibetan Buddhism believe that the soul of a senior lama is reincarnated in the body of a child on his death. China says the tradition must continue and it must approve the next Dalai Lama, though he has suggested the title could end when he dies.
“One minute he will reincarnate as a foreigner ... the next as a woman. If you gave him a jar of honey, he'll happily tell you that in his next life he'll be a bee,” Zhu added.
In recent years, world leaders have become increasingly nervous of meeting the Dalai Lama over fears it will shake diplomatic relations with China.
Zhu also addressed such meetings, and said they would cause people “who don't know right from wrong” to “lose status” in the eyes of Chinese people.
The official, who has a hardline stance on Tibet has been involved in the past in Beijing's failed efforts to talk to the Dalai Lama's representatives, went on to say: "the international media is less and less interested in the Dalai Lama."
"I think that Tibet's development ... has made the situation in Tibet better and better, and this is the basic reason for the fall in the Dalai Lama's international standing," he said.
His comments came after the political head of Tibet's exiles compared China finding a successor to the Dalai Lama to former Cuban leader Fidel Castro choosing the Pope.
The Chinese-appointed governor of Tibet on Monday accused Dalai Lama blasphemy for suggesting he would not be reincarnated when he died. The governor, Padma Choling, repeated that Beijing had the right to decide.
In response to comments by Padma Choling, the Chinese-appointed governor of Tibet, Lobsang Sangay told Reuters the choice is none of his or any of the Communist party’s business.
“Communism believes in atheism and religion being poisonous,” the prime minister of the government-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay, told Reuters.
“It's like Fidel Castro saying, 'I will select the next pope and all the Catholics should follow.' That is ridiculous,” said Sangay, who resides in the Indian mountain town of Dharamsala, like the Dalai Lama.
Additional reporting by Reuters
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