The United States on Tuesday (local time) emphasised that the Chinese government should have no role in the succession process of Tibet’s spiritual leader Dalai Lama and Beijing’s interference in the matter is an “outrageous abuse of religious freedom”.

Replying to a question on President Joe Biden’s position on the issue of Dalai Lama’s reincarnation, US State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said, “We believe that the Chinese Government should have no role in the succession process of the Dalai Lama.”

He further said, “Beijing’s interference in the succession of the Panchen Lama more than 25 years ago, including by, “disappearing the Panchen Lama as a child and attempting to replace him with a People’s Republic of China (PRC) government-chosen successor remains an outrageous abuse of religious freedom.”

The Chinese government occupied Tibet in 1950 and has ever since tried to control the region.
The Buddhist figure, who is currently 85-year-old, had earlier announced that upon turning 90 he will decide whether he should be reincarnated.

The Dalai Lama, whom China views as overseer of an “evil clique” that seeks to split Tibet from China, escaped to India in 1959 and the 10th Panchen Lama (Lobsang Trinley Lhundrup Choekyi Gyaltsen) stayed behind in Tibet. He spoke against Chinese rule many times and wrote a report chronicling Tibet’s famines in the 1960s.

In recent years, China has intensified its efforts to eradicate the Dalai Lama from the religious lives of Tibetans to crush their identity. During a meeting, Mao Zedong had told the 14th Dalai Lama, that “religion is poison.”

The Chinese government’s State Religious Affairs Bureau had published a document in 2007 laying out “management measures” for the reincarnation of living Tibetan Buddhas.

According to the document, the reincarnations of Tibetan religious figures must be approved by Chinese government authorities, and those with “particularly great impact” must be approved by the State Council, China’s top civil administration body currently led by Premier Li Keqiang, CNN had earlier reported.

However, the Dalai Lama has stated that if he chooses to reincarnate, the responsibility for finding the 15th Dalai Lama will be on the Gaden Phodrang Trust, an India-based group he had founded after going into exile.

While China continues with its policies to eradicate the Dalai Lama from the lives of Tibetans by bringing the religious institution under its control, the US has threatened to sanction the Chinese government officials who chose a reincarnation of the Dalai Lama over the wishes of the Tibetan people.