'Tensions over what will happen when the 14th Dalai Lama, who is 79, dies, and particularly over who decides who will succeed him as the most prominent leader in Tibetan Buddhism, have ignited at the annual gathering of China’s legislators in Beijing.
'Party functionaries were incensed by the exiled Dalai Lama’s recent speculation that he might end his spiritual lineage and not reincarnate. That would confound the Chinese government’s plans to engineer a succession that would produce a putative 15th Dalai Lama who accepts China’s presence and policies in Tibet. Their anger welled up on Wednesday, as it had a day earlier.
'Zhu Weiqun, a Communist Party official who has long dealt with Tibetan issues, told reporters in Beijing on Wednesday that the Dalai Lama had, essentially, no say over whether he was reincarnated. That was ultimately for the Chinese government to decide, he said, according to a transcript of his comments on the website of People’s Daily, the party’s main newspaper.
'“Decision-making power over the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, and over the end or survival of this lineage, resides in the central government of China,” said Mr. Zhu, formerly a deputy head of the United Front Department of the Communist Party, which oversees dealings with religious and other nonparty groups. He now leads the ethnic and religious affairs committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body that meets at the same time as the Legislature, or National People’s Congress.
'Mr. Zhu accused the Dalai Lama of trampling on sacred traditions.
'“In religious terms, this is a betrayal of the succession of Dalai Lamas in Tibetan Buddhism,” he said.
“The 14th Dalai Lama has taken an extremely frivolous and disrespectful attitude toward this issue,” Mr. Zhu continued. “Where in the world is there anyone else who takes such a frivolous attitude toward his own succession?”
'The idea of Communist Party officials defending the precepts of reincarnation and hurling accusations of heresy at the Dalai Lama might have Marx turning in his grave. The party is committed to atheism in its ranks, though it accepts religious belief in the public. And President Xi Jinping has declared his fealty to Marxist-Leninist dialectical materialism.