China rebuffs Dalai Lama for saying he may be the last to carry the name

(Photo: REUTERS / Danish Siddiqui)Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks during a teaching session themed "Living, Loving, Laughing and Dying: The Buddhist Way" at a college in Mumbai May 30, 2014. The Dalai Lama is on a four-day visit to Mumbai.

China has reiterated a call on the Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama to respect the tradition of reincarnation, after he was quoted in a German-based newspaper saying he may be the last in his line of Tibetan spiritual leaders.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying on September 10 said China has a set of religious procedure and historic practice of reincarnation of living Buddhist lamas, including the position of the Dalai Lama, India Today reported.

Some Tibetans accused China of trying to install a fake Dalai Lama after it named it choice of the leader's No. 2, the Panchen Lama in 2011.

"China follows a policy of freedom of religion and belief and this naturally includes having to respect and protect the ways of passing on Tibetan Buddhism," said Hua.

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Showing China's unflinching opposition to the Tibetan leader Reuters news agency quoted Hua as saying: "The title of Dalai Lama is conferred by the central government, which has hundreds of years of history.

"The (present) 14th Dalai Lama has ulterior motives, and is seeking to distort and negate history, which is damaging to the normal order of Tibetan Buddhism."

The 14th Dalai Lama fled across the Himalayas and sought refuge in India following the failed Tibetan uprising in 1959. The then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru allowed in the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government officials.

Since then, the Dalai Lama lived in exile in Dharamshala, in the state of Himachal Pradesh in northern Indian, where Tibetan refugees have established many schools and Buddhist temples.

In an interview with Welt am Sonntag newspaper, the Dalai Lama said that he should be the last to hold the position, adding that his spiritual role could expire with his death. The interview was published on September 7.

"We had a Dalai Lama for almost five centuries. The 14th Dalai Lama now is very popular. Let us then finish with a popular Dalai Lama," he told the newspaper.

When asked whether he may ever be able to return to Tibet, the 79-year-old Buddhist spiritual leader answered: "Yes, I am sure of that. China can no longer isolate itself, it must follow the global trend towards a democratic society."

14 NOBEL PEACE LAUREATES

Meanwhile 14 Nobel Peace Laureates have asked President Jacob Zuma to guarantee the Dalai Lama a visa to South Africa, after the Tibetan spiritual leader was forced to abandon a trip to the country.

The Dalai Lama, who is a personal friend of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, was to attend a summit of Nobel peace prize winners in Cape Town in October. It is first meeting of its kind in Africa, Agence France-Presse reported on September 15.

An aide of the Buddhist leader said he cancelled his visit after he was denied a visa as South Africa did not want to irk China, which opposes the Dalai Lama as a campaigner for Tibetan independence.

"We are deeply concerned about the damage that will be done to South Africa's international image by a refusal - or failure - to grant him a visa yet again," the Nobel laureates said in a letter to Zuma.

Signatories include Poland's Lech Walesa, Bangladeshi entrepreneur Muhammad Yunus, Iranian lawyer Shirin Ebadi, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Northern Irish peacemakers David Trimble and John Hume.

The Dalai Lama has applied three times in the last five years to visit South Africa.

Each time the government stalled on a decision until the trip was called off.

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