Senior officials governing Tibet say they have prepared for the eventual death of the Dalai Lama and do not expect major instability when it comes.
In interviews published Tuesday in Beijing, the officials also dismissed reports that Tibet's exiled spiritual leader will choose his own successor, saying the next Dalai Lama must be chosen according to longstanding tradition.
Qiangba Puncog, the chief of Tibet's parliamentary delegation, said the death of the 76-year-old Dalai Lama will have some impact because of the Buddhist leader's religious stature in Tibet. But the former Tibet governor said the government is "completely capable of ensuring the long-term political and economical stability in Tibet."
The Chinese government has accused the Dalai Lama of instigating a wave of anti-Chinese protests in Tibet three years ago that prompted a harsh crackdown.
The Dalai Lama, who lives in exile in India, has been quoted saying he would be willing to break with tradition by choosing his own successor for fear that otherwise, Chinese officials will install a new Dalai Lama who is willing to do their bidding.
But Tibet's current governor, Padma Choling, told the state-run Global Times that the next Tibetan Dalai Lama must be chosen according to the centuries-old tradition under which high-ranking monks search for the reincarnated spirit of the late spiritual leader.