Rumors that the atheistic CCP may end the farce of authorizing who may reincarnate and into whom were denied at a press conference in Beijing.
by Lopsang Gurung
Readers of “Bitter Winter” know that in 2007, the State Administration of Religious Affairs institutionalized the right of the CCP to decide which Tibetan Buddhist lamas should be authorized to reincarnate, to control the process for identifying the reincarnations, and to certify what reincarnations were genuine through its infamous Order no. 5.
The regulation was widely criticized in Tibet and abroad, where the paradox of an atheistic party asserting control of reincarnation was easily ridiculed. Of course, one of its main aims is to allow the CCP to select a puppet Dalai Lama when His Holiness dies.
Recently, there have been rumors that the CCP may replace Order no. 5 with a different system where the reincarnation of tulkus will be handled by a Buddhist body—which of course will still be under the strict control of the Party or the United Front. This would avoid the present paradoxical situation where officially atheistic authorities intervene in something they obviously do not believe in such as reincarnation.
However, these rumors were strongly denied at a press conference on “New Xizang in the New Era with New Vitality” (“Xizang” being the name the CCP is trying to substitute to “Tibet”), organized on June 29 by the China Journalists Association and the China Tibetology Research Center. That this was not a purely academic event was confirmed by the fact that foreign journalists and representatives of foreign embassies were also invited, and the international CCP propaganda organ “Global Times” also reported on it in English. Participants were then taken to visit the controversial Beijing’s Museum of Tibetan Culture, where the history of Tibet is presented in a “Sinicized” version.
Apart from the usual propaganda that Tibetans have never been as happy and prosperous as they are now under the enlightened rule of the CCP, and a strong attack against the United Nations report denouncing the forcible separation of one million children from their Tibetan parents, the press conference dealt with the rumors that Order no. 5 may be repealed or modified.
It was explained that the principles that “the reincarnation of the Living Buddhas must be approved by the central government,” rather than by other authorities, and “the successor must be searched within China” cannot be changed. Order no. 5 will not be “changed or suspended by certain individuals,” said Zhang Yun, a researcher with the China Tibetology Research Center. He claimed that the idea that “the person who reincarnates has sole legitimate authority over where and how he or she takes rebirth and how that reincarnation is to be recognized” is just propaganda by the United States and the “Dalai Lama clique.”
The CCP will not surrender its direct control of reincarnations. The Party can tolerate being ridiculed abroad. It cannot tolerate anything less than absolute control on Tibetans and Tibetan Buddhism.