China Requires Tibetan Buddhists Lama to Apply for Reincarnation

China has announced new measures that make it illegal for Tibetan Buddhism's "Living Buddhas" (Tibetan Lama or Tulku) to be reincarnated without permission from the Chinese government.

Chinese officials said Friday the new regulations will take effect September first, and are meant to manage the reincarnation of Tibetan Lama.

Tibetan Lama are spiritually advanced monks and an important element in Tibetan Buddhism. Reincarnation is the belief that people are reborn into a new body following death.

Tibetan Buddhism's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, and thousands of his followers fled to India from Tibet in 1959 during a failed revolt against Chinese rule. He has been struggling for Tibetan autonomy since then.

Beijing accuses him of separatism, and demands that he give up what it says are aspirations for independence.

China's government has tried for many years to manage Tibetan Buddhism's religious affairs. The boy chosen as the faith's second-most influential figure has spent more than a decade in Chinese custody. Gendun Choekyi Nyima and his parents were detained in 1995 after the six-year-old boy was recognized by the Dalai Lama as the 11th Panchen Lama. China selected another boy, Gyaltsen Norbu, to be the reincarnated Panchen Lama.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.