Beijing: China would support the Dalai Lama's successor as long as his selection conforms with its laws, historical rules and the will of the Tibetan people, a top leader of the ruling CPC has said.
Reacting to the Dalai Lama's comments hinting that his successor would don the role of only a religious head for Tibetans and not of a political leader, Xu Zhitao, who is with the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, said the Dalai's role as political leader ended in 1959, the year he left for India on self-exile.
Xu told state-run Global Times that the central government revoked the Dalai's role as political leader of Tibetans after the "democratic reform of Tibet" in 1959.
"It's ridiculous for the Dalai Lama to say he changed the centuries-old tradition, because the tradition was already changed in 1959," Xu said.
At the same time, he said the Chinese government "will definitely support the Dalai Lama's successor if he or she is selected according to Chinese laws and historical rules, and the Tibetan people's will."
The 77-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader said in his address to the Jamia Millia Islamia in New Delhi on Wednesday that till last year he held the dual position of political and spiritual head of the Tibetans before he transferred all powers to the "Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in- Exile".
"I am in a semi-retirement position. I changed a tradition which has been there for four centuries. What was started by the fifth Dalai Lama was ended by 14th Dalai Lama ie me. I am happy and proud," he had said.
The succession for the Dalai could become a politically explosive issue as China is currently grappled with unrest in Tibet in the wake of over 50 self immolations in recent months against the Chinese rule and for the return of the Dalai Lama.
The situation in Tibet assumed significance as the CPC leadership headed by President Hu Jintao— who critics say followed a hard-line policy towards Tibet ruling out any political concessions— is set to change.
The Dalai in his recent comments had said that Vice President Xi Jinping, officially projected as the one to succeed Hu, could be more flexible.
The 18th Congress of the CPC, likely to be held in the coming weeks, is expected to select the new leadership but reports here say Xi is unwell, sparking speculation about his future prospects.
However, Xu has already rebuffed the Dalai's remarks that there were "encouraging signs" about China changing its attitude towards Tibet after the end of tenure of the present leadership.