The Chinese government had some sharp words for American lawmakers after the U.S. Senate adopted a resolution warning China against any attempts to "interfere" with the selection of the next Dalai Lama.
"The adoption of this resolution by the U.S. Senate is another proof of some American's habitual and inexplicable ignorance and arrogance," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying told reporters Friday. "The reincarnation system for the Living Buddhas is unique to the Tibetan Buddhism, which has been in existence for several centuries with a complete set of religious rituals and historical conventions. The reincarnation of the Dalai Lama shall follow these religious rituals, historical conventions and Chinese laws and regulations. It is not to be dictated by anyone, let alone a foreign country that has nothing to do with this."
Chunying went on to point out purported human rights issues in the U.S., specifically "systematic racial discrimination."
"We believe that the relevant people in the US shall first and foremost know their position well and get their house tidy and in order before uttering irresponsible accusations against other countries," she said.
The aggressive counter-accusation came on the heels of the adoption by the Senate last week of Resolution 429: "A resolution commemorating the 59th anniversary of Tibet's 1959 uprising as 'Tibetan Rights Day', and expressing support for the human rights and religious freedom of the Tibetan people and the Tibetan Buddhist faith community."
The text of the resolution, passed Wednesday, states that the selection of the 15th Dalai Lama "is a matter that should be determined solely within the Tibetan Buddhist faith community, in accordance with the inalienable right to religious freedom" and that "any attempt" by China to install its own candidate "is invalid interference in the right to religious freedom of Tibetan Buddhists around the world, including in Tibet as well as the United States and elsewhere..."
Buddhist tradition holds that the Dalai Lama is continually reincarnated, and "found" generation to generation by Buddhist spiritual leaders. Since the Dalai Lama is a political leader for Tibetans as well a a spiritual one (despite the current Lama's abdication of political power), China has an interest in the next one being identified within its sphere of influence. That, in turn, has led to fears in Tibet -- and now the U.S. Senate -- that China will attempt to hijack the identification process.
"It is a reality that no one else can force the person concerned, or manipulate him or her," the current Dalai Lama said in 2011. "It is particularly inappropriate for Chinese communists, who explicitly reject even the idea of past and future lives, let alone the concept of reincarnate Tulkus, to meddle in the system of reincarnation and especially the reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas."
The 14th Dalai Lama said in that 2011 statement that when he's "about ninety," he will consult other high spiritual leaders, the Tibetan public and others and decide whether there will be a next reincarnation at all. If there is, he said it will follow a strict process and that "no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People's Republic of China." The Dalai Lama turns 83 in July.
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