Chinese Communists Seek Their Own Dalai Lama

Chinese authorities are trying to take control of the election of the spiritual leader of Tibet. The reason is the age of the current Dalai Lama who is about to turn 75. Although the election should be held after the death of the spiritual leader of Tibet, Lamaists and the Chinese authorities are already concerned with this issue.

The problem is acute because the Dalai Lama is not just a spiritual leader. Pavel Manzhutkin, a representative of the Buryat Buddhists, stated in an interview with that for the Buddhists he is a “great teacher and it is correct to say that he is a living embodiment of divinity, Bodhisattva, a person who has attained enlightenment and decided to serve the people.”

However, the leaders of the Chinese Communist Party believe that the current Dalai Lama is a “separatist” who, with the assistance of foreign intelligence services, is trying to separate Tibet from China. They believe he is the one responsible for the riots occurring in the area from time to time.

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The story of the institute of Dalai Lama began in the 13th century, when the grandson of Genghis Khan, the Mongol Kublai Khan, raised his Buddhist teacher Lama Pagb to the rank of the state teacher and the Dalai Lama, asking him to manage Tibet that was a part of a vast empire controlled by Mongols.

However, in the 14th century, the Mongol Yuan dynasty which ruled in China was overthrown. It was replaced by the Chinese Ming dynasty that weakened China's influence in Tibet. Tibet has existed as an independent country since the 17th century, when the fifth Dalai Lama has united it under his control. Since then, the Dalai Lamas continued to rule the country until the invasion of Chinese troops in 1949 and complete takeover of Tibet in 1959.

The 14th Dalai Lama (who was still quite young then) who ruled there at the time, escaped to India. Since then, all his actions have been a source of headache for the Chinese leadership.

The Dalai Lama criticizes China for its policy towards the region. He has repeatedly made statements indicating that it is the policy of Beijing that has caused the decline in the numbers of Tibetans over decades.

Particularly unpleasant for the CPC is the fact that the Dalai Lama keeps making statements about the need for demilitarization of the region and complete withdrawal of nuclear forces. China keeps one-third of its nuclear arsenal in Tibet (due to complicated relations with neighboring India). The West actively supports the Dalai Lama. This is not surprising, considering that the weakening of the rapidly growing China caused by the separation of a number of national regions, including Tibet, would be advantageous for Americans and Europeans (and not only them).

However, it would be incorrect to call the current Dalai Lama a “separatist” as they do it in China. Today, he formally renounced the Tibetan throne, left the government in exile and refused to provide independence to Tibet,limiting his requirements to broad autonomy.

However, the Chinese authorities refused to meet these demands. They say that Beijing has invested a great deal of money in the development of the region, in particular, has built the world's highest railway to Tibet's capital Lhasa and generally improved living standards of Tibetans. Therefore, they rejected the requirements of the Dalai Lama. But the ongoing riots in Tibet clearly suggest that material wealth cannot replace the desire or the local population to be autonomous.

The Dalai Lama is the one responsible for what happens in Tibet (in terms of the CPC). The Chinese authorities decided to resolve the issue radically and take control over the elections. The Chinese Communists referred to historical experience. Allegedly, in the 18th century, the election procedure of the Dalai Lama was under the control of the Celestial Emperor Hunli.

The 14th Dalai Lama reacted with the following words: the new spiritual leader would not be born in China. Moreover, the transformation may not take place. In his words, the institution of the Dalai Lamas has already fulfilled its purpose.

Will the plan of the Chinese leadership work? Will this “election” cause mass discontent among Tibetans, and India, which lays claim to a part of Tibet (and hosts the Dalai Lama)?

Sergei Luzyanin, deputy director of the Institute of Far East, answered these questions for

“It would be incorrect to say that the Chinese Communists decided to appoint the Dalai Lama themselves. There is a complex system in China that regulates spiritual life. It has its own system of religion control, which the CCP does not openly interfere with. And the Chinese Communists formally distance themselves from the issue of electing a new Dalai Lama. They just decided to influence the spiritual commission which elects the new Dalai Lama.

According to the tradition, the new Dalai Lama may be reborn in a boy. Let me remind you that today there are two main candidates. One of the boys lives in Beijing, the other one lives on Indian territory. Understandably, it would be advantageous for the Chinese authorities if the candidate who lives in Beijing won the battle.

It is not hard to understand Beijing. Say what you like, but Tibetis under its control, and it is a definite trump card. But it is a sensitive issue because it relates to politics and may cause certain frustration of the Tibetans. An all-Tibet riot is hardly possible. Usually, the direst predictions about the extent of their discontent do not come true.

As for India, it now takes the stand of cooperation with China. And although the Dalai Lama has been living on its territory, there is an agreement between New Delhi and Beijing, under which the Dalai Lama does not conduct any political work in India. Besides, the Indian leadership has recognized that Tibet belongs to China.”

Sergey Balmasov

Read the original in Russian 

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov