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Trump bowls a googly that makes Dalai Lama smile

<p dir="ltr">The United States has bowled a googly at the fag end of the Trump Presidency that may crash through Beijing’s defences. Trump has put into force a new law that says the choice of the next Dalai Lama is the prerogative of the Tibetans alone. Any attempt by Beijing to interfere in the Dalai Lama’s succession would result in sanctions against China. The Tibet Policy and Support Act of 2020 (TPSA) approved by President Trump calls for the establishment of a US consulate in Tibet’s main city of Lhasa and underlines the absolute right of Tibetans to choose a successor to the Dalai Lama. Washington has also urged other governments to pass similar laws. Now India, like the US, should take a firm stand that only Tibetans, not Beijing, can decide the issue.</p>
The law has been described by Dharamshala, the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile, as a historic move and a clear message to China. “The TPSA makes it official United States policy that decisions regarding the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama are exclusively within the authority of the current Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhist leaders and the Tibetan people,” said a statement by the Central Tibetan Administration. Lobsang Sangay, President of the Central Tibetan Administration, described the legislation as a victory for the Tibetan freedom struggle. “We have been pushing for this for the last two years,” he said. He said the move by the US Congress was a tribute to the great legacy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to the courage and solidarity of six million Tibetans inside Tibet.

While the Act reflects the Trump administration’s hard views on China, it also serves as a reminder of the coming global battle over the Dalai Lama’s succession. The US law is also significant because China has already started the process to identify its version of the reincarnation of the 14th Dalai Lama and then use China’s economic and political influence to coerce other governments into recognising only their Dalai Lama. China has said its leaders have the right to approve the Dalai Lama’s successor, which many see as a coercive attempt to control Tibet, where ethnic Tibetans make up about 90 per cent of the population. The new US law ensures that on reincarnation, Washington will stick to the straight and correct path. But other countries will find it harder to resist.

<img class="wp-image-50395 size-large" src="https://indianarrative.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/1b3422b35b95d2e0943e4e32c0907dd1-1-769×1024.jpg" alt="" width="769" height="1024" /> Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) President Lobsang Sangay has termed the Trump administration's decision as a historic one

There is all likelihood that if the Tibetan people decide to continue with the institution of the Dalai Lama, there could be two Dalai Lamas. Just as there are two Panchen Lamas and two claimants to the title of the 17th Karmapa, the head of wealthy Karma Kagyu school. The Dalai Lama identified Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, the second-most senior figure in Tibetan Buddhism’s largest school, in May 1995. Three days afterwards the boy was taken into custody and has not been seen since, with human rights groups calling him the world’s youngest political prisoner. China later appointed its own Panchen Lama, who has made a number of scripted public appearances, but many Tibetans do not recognise his authority. In May, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded China immediately reveal the boy’s whereabouts, triggering condemnation from Beijing.

The US legislation has prompted the question as to whether India needs to do more, particularly following the Ladakh border skirmishes have shown that China no longer feels the need to abide by formal understandings. India always discouraged Tibetan leaders from expressing political views against China while on Indian soil. However, The Dalai Lama succession is the issues that warrant India to prepare itself for fresh thinking to deal with Chinese aggression. This is an opportune moment for India to officially declare that it believes the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan sect leaders outside of China have the final say in Tibetan spiritual issues. Secondly, it must review its current policies regarding Tibetan refugees whose numbers in India are shrinking rapidly. They provide an important source of legitimacy for Tibetan leaders in India but now number less than 75,000. Finally, India must shed its shyness and begin engaging with other governments over the Tibetan issue..