The present position of Beijing is in sharp contrast with the position taken by the Chinese leadership in its 2009 white paper on Tibet where it said” central government has opened and will always keep its door open for the 14th Dalai Lama to return to a patriotic stand”. But that liberal stance is missing in the latest white paper which emphasizes on the great leap in the socialist system in Tibet under the rule of the Chinese Communist Party and how Tibet has fully implemented the ethnic policy of the Communist Party of China to enhance the awareness of ethnic solidarity and the sense of community of the Chinese nation and society.

The most important part in this 2019 white paper is on reincarnation where it says that the central government had further institutionalized the reincarnation process of living Buddhas” enshrined in the “Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas of Tibetan Buddhism” guidelines published 12 years ago. This rules out any proposal by Dalai Lama to nominate his successor from India.

It is recalled that Dalai Lama’s reincarnation has been one of the most contentious issues between the exiled Tibetan leader and the Chinese Government. Last week, Dalai Lama said that it was possible that once he died, his incarnation could be found in India where he is in exile since 1959 and is soon completing 60 years. The ailing 14th Dalai Lama also wanted that any successor named by Beijing would not be respected. Now, the latest white paper clarifies the position of Beijing that the Communist government will choose the successor of Dalai Lama by following its own guidelines. Beijing said that the reincarnation of Dalai Lama must comply with Chinese laws and guidelines.

Informed sources say that the present Dalai Lama is critically ill with some terminal disease and he will not survive long. So the issue of reincarnation will come to the fore quite soon. India Government naturally has to take a position and it is a delicate issue in respect of India-China relations. Prime Minister Narendra Modi is reported to have discussed this issue in his talks with President Xi Jinping in Wuhan summit in April last year. In fact reports said that Indian PM had long discussions about the possible situation after the death of the 14th Dalai Lama. Talks were held in a very cordial atmosphere, it was stated.

As of now, the flow of exiles from Tibet to India has dwindled as Tibet undergoes rapid modernization. In 2017, the number of exiles was only 57 as against around 2,000 a year a decade back. The Indian Government is in fact encouraging Tibetan exiles to get Indian citizenship. Indian government is discouraging any anti-China activities by the exiles.

That way the issue of Tibetan exiles is not a major one. But the reincarnation issue, when it comes, will be a very crucial one. Indian Government has to look at this new Dalai Lama issue as a part of total relationship with China. Chinese diplomatic manouvres need constant monitoring. They give conflicting signals. In the wake of India’s new found power as A-SAT nation along with USA, Russia and China, New Delhi has a good possibility to have comprehensive dialogue with Beijing including the nomination of the successor to the present Dalai Lama. (IPA Service)