Dalai Lama will pick successor "soon," China has no say on issue: Tibetan President Lobsang Sangay

New Delhi: The Dalai Lama will himself pick his successor, which may happen "soon", President of the Tibetan government-in-exile Lobsang Sangay said on Saturday, asserting China does not have any say on the issue.

The current Dalai Lama, while still very active, recently turned 81 but is yet to make a decision about his successor.

"As far as the next Dalai Lama is concerned it's already on the table and he can come through reincarnation, selection or emanation. These options are on the table but not yet executed," he said while speaking at the 'Indo-Tibet Summit' organised by the South and East Asia Foundation in New Delhi.

"He (the Dalai Lama) says that he will decide at the age of 90, but I think it should happen sooner and I think it is likely to happen," he said.

In reincarnation, one has to die and reborn. Selection is when the high lamas meet and select the Dalai Lama and emanation is when the Dalai Lama designates his own successor before he passes away.

Sangay said that as per the procedure, selection of the next Dalai Lama by China would be "illegitimate".

 Dalai Lama will pick successor soon, China has no say on issue: Tibetan President Lobsang Sangay

File image of Dalai Lama. AFP

"The communist party says religion is poison. They don't believe in religion. They destroy monasteries, disrobe monks and nuns. What is the basis of legitimacy they will have to select the next Dalai Lama? Not at all," he said.

Drawing a parallel of Chinese picking the next Dalai Lama akin to a communist leader selecting a Shankaracharya he said, "Do you think the devotees will accept the Shankaracharya? Very unlikely! Hence, selecting the Dalai Lama is Dalai Lama's business and no one else's".

Last month, China's official think-tanks had announced that the next highest monk of Tibetan Buddhism must have the endorsement of Beijing. China has held the same positions for years now.

The Dalai Lamas have historically enjoyed considerable political and spiritual influence over Tibetans.

China is keen to pick up the successor to the current Dalai Lama to firm up its hold over Tibet, which it has kept under tight political, military and administrative control after it took over the area in 1951.

Sangay also said that the Tibet administration was adopting a middle-way policy in dealing with China, a view supported by the Dalai Lama.

"There are practical reasons because China says 'One China' cannot be negotiated. That's a reality. And we say, OK, if that is non-negotiable then what is negotiable is genuine autonomy, which is written in the Chinese constitution and which should be given to Tibetan people," the president said.

Sangay also expressed gratitude towards India for all the support shown by it towards the Tibetan cause over the years.

"India and Indian government has done the most work for Tibetan people. But recently, what has happened is that what was happening in closed doors is now being done out in the open," he said.

He cited the Dalai Lama's visit with President Pranab Mukherjee at the Nobel Peace laureates conference at the presidential palace, the International Buddhist Conference in Nalanda, where the Tibetan spiritual guru was the chief guest, and Sangay's presence at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's swearing-in ceremony as the proof that the Indo-Tibet ties have become more open.

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Updated Date: May 20, 2017 22:05:38 IST