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China has published its first list of so called "authentic living Buddhas, " saying that growing numbers of fraudulent Buddhas are using their status to swindle money from believers. Beijing has taken the unusual step of concerning itself with matters of reincarnation by releasing the names, photographs and locations of 870 what they say "verified" Buddhas on the website of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, according to Xinhua news agency. It's a move that's been praised by one of the men who features on the list. "As a living Buddha, I feel genuinely happy about it," Drukhang Thubten Khedrup tells the state-run news agency. According to China's religious affairs, the system has been inaugurated to counter "fake" Buddhas who are undermining Tibetan Buddhism by cheating believers out of cash. However, the spiritual cataloguing scheme has already been criticized as a means of further controlling Tibetan affairs. "This living Buddha database and the whole policy toward reincarnation is clearly a pre-emptive move by the government to control what happens after this Dalai Lama," Amnesty International's Nicholas Bequelin told Time magazine in December 2015, when the list was first announced. It's also seen as a means of confirming state choices for other religious appointments.

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