US to op­pose China’s move to im­pose its own Dalai Lama on Ti­betans

Financial Chronicle - - MISCELLANY - LALIT K JHA

THE US has hinted that it will op­pose any move by China to im­pose its own Dalai Lama on the Ti­betan peo­ple as Wash­ing­ton be­lieves that the de­ci­sion to pick the suc­ces­sor to Ti­bet's cur­rent top Bud­dhist leader should be as per re­li­gious tra­di­tions and the state has no role in it.

China has grown in­creas­ingly wary about who will suc­ceed the 14th Dalai Lama, who lives in In­dia on ex­ile. The cur­rent Dalai Lama, who is 83, was des­ig­nated by high priests as the next Dalai Lama when he was just 2. Ac­cord­ing to Ti­betan Bud­dhist tra­di­tion, when the cur­rent Dalai Lama passes away, he will rein­car­nate as an­other per­son. China has main­tained that it has the au­thor­ity to ap­point the suc­ces­sor to the 14th Dalai Lama, who is loyal to Bei­jing.

Ex­plain­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s stand to law­mak­ers on Tues­day, Laura Stone, Act­ing Deputy As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for East Asian and Pa­cific Af­fairs, said, "The United States has a very clear po­si­tion that de­ci­sions, re­li­gious de­ci­sions, should be made within re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tions, that this isn't the role of the state.”

Stone was re­spond­ing to a ques­tion from Sen­a­tor Cory Gard­ner at the Se­nate For­eign Re­la­tions Sub­com­mit­tee on East Asia, the Pa­cific and In­ter­na­tional Cy­ber­se­cu­rity Pol­icy. “China has said that they will pick the next Dalai Lama. The Ti­betan Pol­icy, ac­tu­ally in 2002, man­dated that Amer­i­can of­fi­cials visit Ti­bet on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. I want to get into both of these. If China pro­ceeds and tries to im­pose a Dalai Lama what will the US re­sponse be?” the sen­a­tor had asked.

Stone said that the sen­a­tor ask­ing such a ques­tion was an im­por­tant sig­nal in it­self to the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment that this was the kind of is­sue that the US was watch­ing very closely. While Bei­jing views the Dalai Lama as a sep­a­ratist who seeks to split Ti­bet from China, the 1989 No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate says he only seeks greater rights for Ti­betans, in­clud­ing re­li­gious free­dom and au­ton­omy.

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