China on Tuesday indicated that it won't recognise the successor of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama if found in India.
The 14th Dalai Lama has been living in India in exile since 1959 after a failed revolt against Communist rule in Tibet. Beijing calls him a "dangerous secessionist" and is worried about his successor.
In an interview with Reuters, the Dalai Lama said China worries more about the next Dalai Lama than him.
"In future, in case you see two Dalai Lamas come, one from here, in a free country, one is chosen by Chinese, then nobody will trust, nobody will respect (the one chosen by China). So that's an additional problem for the Chinese. It's possible, it can happen," the 83-year-old monk said.
Reacting to the interview, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said the reincarnation of Dalai Lama should follow China's laws and regulations and religious rituals.
"I knew you were going to ask this question. Well, here is the answer. Reincarnation is the unique way of Tibetan Buddhism. It has fixed rituals and systems. The Chinese government has a policy of freedom of religious beliefs. We have the regulation of religious affairs and regulations on the reincarnation of Tibetan Buddhism. We respect and protect such ways of Tibetan Buddhism," Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said.
"The reincarnation system has been there for hundreds of years. The 14th Dalai also was recognised in the religious rituals and was approved by the Central government. So the reincarnation of Dalai Lama should be following the national laws and regulations and the religious rituals," he added.
Beijing says it reserved the right to appoint the Dalai Lama's successor in line with the conventions set by Chinese emperors.
However, many Tibetans believe that the soul of a venerated Buddhist monk will reincarnate in the body of a child after his death.
The current Dalai Lama was born in 1935 and identified as the reincarnation of his predecessor when he was two years old.
India is also home to some 100,000 Tibetans, many of who fled Tibet along with the Dalai Lama.
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