Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama said on Friday the issue of his reincarnation is his personal right and the final word lay with him, not China.
"It is in my power and my right to decide about my reincarnation,” the 14th Dalai Lama said during the second day gathering of the religious leaders of the four schools of Tibetan Buddhism and Bon religion in Dharamsala in India.
The 76-year-old Nobel Peace laureate hinted that he might be open to electing his reincarnation by choosing a successor before his death.
A new Chinese law bans Tibetan lamas, or monks, from reincarnating without Chinese government approval. It says the Chinese government has to approve all reincarnations of living Buddhas or senior religious figures in Tibetan Buddhism.
Experts and activists say the law is clearly aimed at excluding the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, from selecting reincarnated lamas or Living Buddhas - which form the core of Tibetan Buddhism's leadership.
In 1995, the Dalai Lama's chosen reincarnation of the Panchen Lama - the second holiest figure in Tibetan Buddhism - was rejected by Beijing. Instead, China appointed its own Panchen Lama and detained the Dalai Lama's choice. But few Tibetans consider the Chinese Panchen Lama as a legitimate leader.
Lamas are often reborn to continue their good work. There are often many candidates of a lama's reincarnation, but only one will be recognized.
The Dalai Lama has earlier said he will be reincarnated outside Tibet - raising the possibility of two Dalai Lamas in the future - a Chinese appointed one in Tibet and another in exile.