Washington (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The US House of Representatives has passed a bill that would authorise sanctions against any Chinese who officials interfere in the process of succession of the Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Tibetan Policy and Support Bill, which was introduced by Democratic Congressman James P McGovern, was approved yesterday by an overwhelming majority, with 392 votes in favour and 22 against, and builds on the 2002 Tibetan Policy Act.
If approved by Senate and signed into law by President Donald Trump, the legislation would freeze US assets owned by Chinese officials involved in the succession process and ban the latter from travelling to the United States.
The legislation also reiterates the status of Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, which China denies, and underscores “that government interference in the Tibetan reincarnation process is a violation of the internationally recognized right to religious freedom, and that matters related to reincarnations in Tibetan Buddhism are of keen interest to Tibetan Buddhist populations worldwide.”
The bill equally slams Beijing for arbitrarily seizing Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, a six-year-old boy who had been identified as the 11th Panchen Lama, for the sole purpose of installing “its own candidate”.
The child destined to occupy the second highest office in Tibetan Buddhism was abducted with his family on 17 May 1995, three days after the current Dalai Lama acknowledged him as the Panchen Lama.
In Tibetan Buddhism, the Panchen Lama is important because he is tasked with recognising the new rebirth of the Dalai Lama after his death.
Since he went missing, there have been no news about him. If he is still alive, Nyima would be 30 now.
Reacting to Beijing’s interference, Tenzin Gyatso recently said that he might be the last Dalai Lama or that his reincarnation could be chosen by a sort of “conclave” made up of the major Buddhist abbots in the diaspora.