China's office of religious affairs has cracked down on the Tibetan practice of designating "living Buddhas," writes the Telegraph. A notice published yesterday forces Tibetan lamas to obtain Chinese permission before naming reincarnations. The exiled Tibetan government suggests the new rules signal that Beijing will try to name its own successor to the Dalai Lama upon his death.
The Chinese authorities already insist that only they can designate the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama, Tibetan Buddhism's two holiest figures. While the current Dalai Lama remains in exile, the so-called "Chinese Panchen" has recently begun to resist Beijing, sources said. China has also introduced more stringent travel restrictions in an effort to quell pro-Tibetan sentiment ahead of the 2008 Olympics.