Dalai Lama Can't Choose Successor: China
Spiritual leader plans reincarnation decision at 'about 90'
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Sep 26, 2011 11:14 AM CDT
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama prays during a prayer session in Dharmsala, India, Monday, Sept. 26, 2011.   (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)

(Newser) – The Dalai Lama says it’s up to him to decide whether he should be reincarnated—and of course China isn't having any of that. Beijing today dismissed any successor picked by the spiritual leader himself as illegal, following the 76-year-old’s statement this weekend that he’ll make a decision on reincarnation when he’s “about 90." He said China shouldn’t weigh in on the choice; China, however, says that “the title of Dalai Lama is conferred by the central government and is illegal otherwise."

Traditionally, monks pick a young boy to be Dalai Lama based on signs he is the previous leader’s reincarnation, AFP notes. But “a Dalai Lama identifying his own successor has never been the practice,” says a rep for China’s foreign ministry. “The reincarnation of the Dalai Lama should follow religious rituals and historical conventions and laws and regulations of this state." The current Dalai Lama said he planned to offer “clear guidelines to recognize the next Dalai Lama” while he remains “physically and mentally fit.” Meanwhile, two young Tibetan monks set themselves on fire today in China, calling for religious freedom.