Sam Brownback, the United States Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom (IRF) after meeting Dalai Lama last week said that the United Nations should take up the Tibetan leader's succession to stop China from interfering. Brownback believes that it is important to have a global conversation as it is a global figure with a global impact. Beijing had reportedly also indicated that it is waiting out the Dalai Lama, believing his campaign for greater Tibetan autonomy will end with him. For this reason, Brownback wants countries to raise their voice to the UN as he believes China would work strenuously to block any action.
China had previously also hinted that it wanted to name the next Dalai Lama, who would presumably be groomed to support Chinese rule. China has further argued that it has brought modernization and development to the Himalayan region, therefore, the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama must be approved by the Chinese government. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang reacted sharply to Brownback’s comments and said it amounted to interference in China’s internal affairs.
“The 14th Dalai Lama is in political exile who has long been carrying out anti-China activities overseas under the pretext of religion," said Geng. “China firmly opposes any contact with the Dalai Lama by any foreign official. The words and deeds of a certain US official violate US commitment to recognize Tibet as part of China, and not to support Tibetan independence. China firmly opposes such words and deeds," he added.
Brownback visited Dharamshala on October 28 to attend the 60th Anniversary event honoring the Tibetan Institute for Performing Arts. “The role of picking a successor to the Dalai Lama belongs to the Tibetan Buddhist system, the Dalai Lama, and other Tibetan leaders. It does not belong to anybody else, not any government or any entity,” said Brownback. The 84-year-old Dalai Lama has not been in the best of his health in recent times which has renewed speculations over his successor.
Talking about the exiled leader, Brownback said, “He is living testament of the power of religious freedom to overcome hate, division, and intolerance. I’m stirred in my own faith to work harder for religious freedom for all, including Tibetans.”
(With PTI inputs)