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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

Dalai Lama rankles China with succession warning

November 29, 2007

by Ed Lane
Tue Nov 27, 8:16 AM ET

The Dalai Lama stepped up a war of succession with China on Tuesday,
warning that Tibet's next Buddhist spiritual leader will be chosen
abroad if he dies in exile.

The 72-year-old said he was looking at "different methods or ways" of
selecting a successor after nearly five decades in exile, drawing a
sharp rebuke from Beijing.

"If my death comes when we are still in a refugee status then logically
my reincarnation will come outside Tibet," the Dalai Lama said in an
interview restricted to three journalists.

According to centuries of tradition, high-ranking monks in Tibet choose
the Dalai Lama's reincarnation after the death of the incumbent.

Instead, he suggested his successor could be selected by election, like
the pope; by seniority, or could take over in the traditional way, but
outside Tibet.

This would head off plans by China's ruling Communist Party to select a
successor itself.

China, which has ruled Tibet since 1951 and has violently crushed
protests there, recently announced that so-called Tibetan living Buddhas
needed permission from the government, officially atheist, to be

"China of course will appoint someone else," he said in response to a
question on Chinese charges that to name a successor before dying would
disrespect Buddhist traditions.

The comments on the sidelines of an inter-faith meeting in this Sikh
holy city in northern India drew an immediate rebuke from Beijing.

"The reincarnation of the living Buddha is a unique way of succession of
Tibetan Buddhism and follows relatively complete religious rituals and
historical conventions," the foreign ministry said in a faxed statement
to AFP.

"The Dalai's remarks obviously violated the religious rituals and
historical conventions."

The statement was the same as Beijing's initial reaction to the Dalai
Lama's comments last week in Japan when he said he was open to naming
his successor before he died.

However, the Tibetan leader went further on Tuesday.

He said the concept was not unprecedented in Tibetan Buddhism, noting
that one of his teachers in Lhasa had his successor named while he was
still alive.

But he noted that "a serious succession process has not yet started,"
adding, "according to my regular medical check-up I am good for another
few decades."

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against
Chinese rule and has set up a government in exile in the Indian hill
station of Dharamsala.

The 1989 Nobel Peace Prize winner maintains that he would like to talk
with Chinese leaders. Beijing has had a series of meetings with his
emissaries in recent years, but has baulked at direct talks.

On Tuesday, he said that Tibet was becoming the victim of "demographic
aggression" because an influx of Han Chinese into cities such as Lhasa
have lead to "some kind of cultural genocide."

The Dalai Lama also said a succession plan would include popular opinion
from Tibetans living in China and the exile community.

He said there should be a Dalai Lama in Tibetan Buddhism, but noted a
need for consensus on whether the post retains relevance, and did not
rule out a referendum.

"Yes, oh yes, it's possible," he said of a referendum. "When my physical
(condition) becomes weak and serious preparations are made for death
then that should happen."

"Should the Tibetan people in the hundreds of thousands like to continue
with the Dalai Lama, (it) is important," he said.

Beijing views the Buddhist leader as a dangerous figure who wants
independence for his Himalayan homeland.

The Dalai Lama said Beijing had misunderstood his goals, which were
cultural autonomy and a "middle way" of co-existing.

"I want to make it very clear: we are not seeking separation or
independence," he said. "We need money. We need modernisation. From the
PRC (People's Republic of China) we get much benefit."
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