(TibetanReview.net, Jan06’23) – Belief in reincarnation is the fundamental basis of the existence of the Tibetan Buddhist institution of reincarnation. However, the Chinese government which is neither Tibetan nor a believer, insists that it alone shall approve, after guiding the process of discovery, the reincarnation of the current, 14th Dalai Lama, just because it is in occupation of Tibet. Tellingly, it prefers to use the term “successor” rather than “reincarnation”, as if this is less of a religious and more of some other matters in which it claims to have the ultimate authority.
Such is the basis underlying China’s trenchantly nationalist official globaltimes.cn’s Jan 5 reassertion of Beijing’s right to “guide the work of finding the successor of the 14th Dalai Lama” and to give its final approval.
The report asserted that Communist Party of China (CPC) “experts on Xizang issues” had reaffirmed these, while supposedly refuting “reports from India media quoting Penpa Tsering, the current head of the ‘Tibetan government-in-exile,’ who claimed that ‘China will interfere with the Dalai Lama’s succession’.”
Zhu Weiqun, former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, has severely criticized the current Dalai Lama’s remarks on the reincarnating lama’s prerogative to determine his own reincarnation, although this is exactly what the Tibetan Buddhist institution of reincarnation is all about. Rather, he has claimed that these are “lies to fool people who are not clear about history and the facts.”
Although anyone with knowledge or interest in this matter knows the reality, the facts of which are detailed in any academically accepted history of Tibet, Zhu has pedalled the false claim that “the 14th Dalai Lama himself was found and recognized following religious rituals and historical conventions, and the succession was approved by the then central government.”
The truth is, there is no record whatsoever of the then nationalist Kuomintang government of China “guiding the process and giving the final approval” of the current Dalai Lama except in the make-believe writings and utterances of the CPC’s propaganda historians and commentators – the so-called experts on Xizang. As a matter of fact, the current Dalai Lama’s birth and recognition took place in the 1930s when the CPC was nowhere in the picture.
And yet, Zhu has gone on to say, without any sense of academic accountability or factual responsibility, that his false claims have “already shown that the highest authority on the issue of the Dalai’s succession does not belong to anyone, but is within the authority of the central government.” To build an edifice of lies and then using that as the basis of refuting facts is an age-old trick of communist propaganda everywhere.
From his propaganda perspective, Xiao Jie, deputy director at the Institute of Contemporary Studies of the China Tibetology Research Center, sees in Penpa Tsering’s remark “an attempt to echo US Senate’s ‘Tibet-China Conflict Resolution Act’ in late December.”
Cleary Xiao and others like him are not happy that people in the outside world see China’s false claims about the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan Buddhists’ reincarnation institutions as nothing more than figments of Chinese propagandists’ imaginations, devoid of any factual flesh and bone to sustain them.
The crux of the matter is that Zhu, Xiao, and their ilk do not care whether or not they are believed in the outside world, or even in China itself, because the CPC has the brute power. They might even assert that the sun rises from the west, should their propaganda need to do so dictates.
That is why Zhu has no qualm about saying “the 14th Dalai Lama has actually been betraying Tibetan Buddhism and the conventions of reincarnation of the living Buddha,” that “he also betrayed Tibetan Buddhism by trying to destroy its historical conventions,” and that “he turned Tibetan Buddhism into a tool of separatism,” even though the latter has all along only been urging China to respect and abide by its own constitution by granting Tibetans the autonomy it guarantees.