The Dalai Lama’s successor should be from his native town in Tibet, a senior official from a Chinese state-run think tank on Tibet said on Thursday. In a rare interaction with the foreign media here, Lian Xiangmin, Director of contemporary research of the Beijing-based China Tibetology Research Centre, said the next successor of the 81-year-old Dalai Lama should come from his native town in China’s Qinghai province, which is previously part of integrated Tibetan region.
The Dalai Lama was born in Taktser village, Qinghai province, and picked up for the spiritual post when he was eight-year-old as part of reincarnation principle followed under Tibetan religious customs.
Replying to a question about the Dalai Lama’s successor over which both the Tibetan leader and the Chinese government have different views, Lian said the next Dalai Lama should be picked as per existing customs and traditions.
The Chinese government is apprehensive that the Dalai Lama may name or his successor or he will be picked up from outside Tibet, perhaps may be from Tawang, to continue the struggle for Tibetan autonomy and independence.
“On the one hand the Dalai Lama says he will live up to 113 years on the other hand he talks about succession issue himself,” Lian said.
He said there were 13 Dalai Lamas before him.
“So we also need to respect them instead of listening to only what he keeps saying,” he said.
“While the succession of the 14th Dalai Lama needs to be decided or implemented according to historical conventions and religious rituals, it is my hope as an academician that his successor should be found in his home town in China,” he said.
“In China there are six million Tibetan people,” he said, adding that there are other ethnic groups which also follow Tibetan-style Buddhism.
“These followers hope to see the successor to the 14th Dalai Lama produced in their neighbourhood in China. So we need to respect the wish of the these religious followers,” he said.
“We hope that the present Dalai Lama will live for 113 years. But if a succession is indeed needed, we hope the new one will be produced according to the historical conventions in a traditional way,” he said.
Lian also rejected criticism that China continued to term the Dalai Lama a separatist and declined to work out a political settlement despite his repeated assertions that Tibet is a part of China.
He said after the Dalai Lama had left for India in 1959, he first tried to stage a rebellion with the help of the CIA, which provided him weapons and money.
“But since 1980 we have witnessed change in tactics of the Dalai Lama. Earlier he supported military activities and later shifted to so called middle way approach,” he said.
While the Chinese government held two rounds of talks with him associates from 2002 to 2010, the main disagreements between him and Beijing stemmed from his belief that Tibet was an independent country before the Chinese occupation in 1951.
“He believed that before 1951 Tibet was an independent country. Only because of the occupation by China it became part of China. That is what the Dalai Lama believed,” he said.
Also he wants to combine all the Tibetan inhabited areas, including the Tibetan autonomous region and Qinghai, Sichuan, Yunnan and Gansu in one political entity.
“That is to say he want to establish an autonomous political entity on 2.5 million sqkm of land which accounts for quarter of China’s territory,” Lian said.
He wants to cancel the present Constitution and the existing law on this piece of land.
He wants change the political system there, he said.
“You can see that there is not much difference between the middle way approach and his consistent separatist policy,” he said.
“So both rounds of discussions failed because of Dalai Lam has refused change his political position, separating Tibet from China,” Lian said.
Even when the Dalai Lama was in power before the Chinese invasion of Tibet, the other areas which he mentioned were not under the control of his government, Lian said.
“Now he wants to establish high degree of autonomy in the whole piece of land. He is in no position to demand for something like that. It is illegitimate and unreasonable for him to demand something like that,” he said.
“The Dalai Lama has no right to talk about political issues in China,” he said.
Outlining conditions for any political rapprochement, Lian said the Chinese government has stipulated that the Dalai Lama must give up his pursuit of Tibet independence, stop separatist activities, recognise Tibet and Taiwan as part of China.
About the future of thousands of Tibetan refugees living in India and abroad, Lian said about 80,000 Tibetans left during the time when the Dalai Lama left for exile.
Their numbers grew to over two lakhs at present.
Since 1980, the Chinese diplomatic missions established contacts with the overseas Tibetans.