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China to gain greater say in choosing future Tibetan leader

September 1, 2007

New rules are coming into force in China today giving the Government more influence over how Tibetan monks select their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama has already nominated a successor, but the Government has named a different child.

Tibetan Buddhists believe the Dalai Lama and other leading monks will be reincarnated when they die.

China wants to make sure it is in charge of the process to find those monks, mainly because of the problem it has had with the current Dalai Lama.

Now, using these new rules, it will be able to say who is and who is not the child deemed to be the Dalai Lama's reincarnation.

The rules say any reincarnated monk has to be approved by the atheist communist state.

The Dalai Lama's representative at the Office of Tibet in London, Tsering Tashi, says China's approach was unwelcome and heavy-handed.

"This is a purely religious issue that should be dealt by religious leaders," he said.

"The Chinese communists are atheists and do not believe in religion, so definitely in the run-up to the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, this is not going to help them and it's only going to tarnish their international image."

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