China: No Reincarnation Without Gov’t Approval

I wish I could put this one under the Humor category, but according to a Congressional Research Service report, the Chinese government’s attempts to manage the religious structure of the Tibetan Buddhist faith has taken a turn for the truly surreal:

China’s 2007 “Reincarnation Law”. The case of the 11th Panchen Lama raised implications for what happens upon the death and subsequent reincarnation of the current Dalai Lama (the 14th) living in exile. Apparently mindful of its previous experience with the 11th Panchen Lama, Beijing late in 2007 took steps designed to solidify its future control over the selection process of Tibetan lamas. On August 3, 2007, the State Administration for Religious Affairs (SARA) issued a set of regulations, effective September 1, 2007, that require all Tibetan lamas wishing to reincarnate to obtain prior government approval through the submission of a “reincarnation application.” In a statement accompanying the regulations, SARA called the step “an important move to institutionalize management on reincarnation of living Buddhas.”
unbossed.com » Tibet: A New Review of US and Chinese Policies

I wonder what officials plan on doing with lamas who reincarnate without prior governmental approval. Perhaps we should ask the current Panchen Lama.

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