“They don’t have the right to appoint the next Dalai Lama any more than they (have) the right to appoint the next pope.”
China’s officially atheist government has made clear it could seek to name a successor to the 84-year-old Dalai Lama, evidently hoping that the global movement for Tibetan autonomy will wither away without the charismatic monk.
The 14th Dalai Lama, who has cut back on a hectic travel schedule but is not known to have serious health issues, has mused about breaking tradition to scuttle Beijing’s plans.
He has spoken of appointing his own successor — perhaps a girl — while he is still alive or declaring the institution finished with him.
China appointed its own Panchen Lama, who has made a number of tightly scripted public appearances, even though many Tibetans do not recognize him.
In a rare statement on the Dalai Lama-appointed Panchen Lama, a pro-Beijing official in Tibet said in 2015 that the young man was healthy, enjoying an education and “does not want to be disturbed.”