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‘Xizang’ officials on overseas mission to garner support for Chinese next Dalai Lama?

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(TibetanReview.net, Dec09’23) – Once rare, senior officials of Chinese ruled Tibet have been making a series of overseas trips recently. The move is seen by analysts as an attempt, in part, to win support for Beijing’s plan to choose the next Dalai Lama, according to the scmp.com Dec 8.

The report noted that Yan Jinhai, chairman of the Tibet autonomous region, and its Communist Party chief Wang Junzheng, had gone on multiple-stop tours of South and Southeast Asia last month.

Yan had led a delegation to the Maldives, Thailand and Myanmar from Nov 19 to 28, with the official Tibet Daily saying it was meant to “comprehensively promote the successful practice and rich experience of the Communist Party in governing Tibet … and to promote extensive exchanges and cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.”

This was preceded by a 10-day visit by Wang to Nepal, Sri Lanka and Singapore to “strengthen people-to-people exchanges, promote closer economic and trade contacts, and deepen practical cooperation in various fields”, the report said, citing an earlier Tibet Daily report.

The report cited Robert Barnett, founder of the Modern Tibetan Studies Programme at Columbia University and currently an affiliate lecturer with King’s College London, as saying these trips might be part of Beijing’s attempts to win support from regional Buddhists over the Dalai Lama succession issue.

He has said, “That is a very important political issue for China.”

Atheist China’s assertion of legal right to choose the next Dalai Lama on the basis of its occupation of Tibet has been dismissed by the current, 14th Dalai Lama who says the process is entirely a religious matter and subject to the intention of the reincarnating individual, with the acceptance thereof being up to the Tibetan people.

China claims to have inherited the right to determine the top reincarnations of Tibetan Buddhism on the basis of a blatantly distorted, selective rendition of its imperial past history.

Referring to the serious credibility and legitimacy issue facing it, Barnett has said, “This might be why these officials from Tibet included Buddhist countries, or countries with significant Buddhist populations, in their itineraries”.

“China may be sending these officials from Tibet abroad to step up pressure on foreign governments in the region to promise total support for China’s claim to have the sole right to select the next Dalai Lama,” he has said.

His opinion seems to accord with what the report cited Lin Minwang, a professor at the Institute of International Studies under Fudan University in Shanghai, as saying, for according to him, the trips could be seen as part of Beijing’s push for provincial officials to play a bigger role in China’s diplomatic drive to win over neighbouring countries.

The countries visited by the officials – Thailand, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal – also had “a variety of connections with Tibet, for example, Buddhism, which makes them very close”, Lin has added.

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