BEIJING/DHARAMSALA, India (Reuters) -- Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama is "making a fool" of Tibetan Buddhism with suggestions he may not reincarnate, or reincarnate as something inappropriate, and the faithful are not buying it, a Chinese official wrote on Monday.
The comments came as early election results put the leader of the Tibetan government-in-exile, Lobsang Sangay, on course for a second term, part of a strategy to sustain a decades-old struggle for greater autonomy for its Chinese-ruled homeland.
China says the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in India after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959, is a violent separatist. He denies espousing violence and says he only wants genuine autonomy for Tibet.
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China official says Dalai Lama 'making a fool' of Buddhism
DHARAMSALA, INDIA - JULY 20: Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama takes part in prayers at the Tsuglagkhang temple on July 20, 2015 in Dharamsala, India. Eleven Tibetan NGOs based in India and Nepal organized a special long-life prayer for their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. (Photo by Shyam Sharma/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - JULY 13: The XIV Dalai Lama attends 80th birthday celebrations at the 'Jahrhunderthalle' on July 13, 2015 in Frankfurt, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama acknowledges audience members after he spoke at an event entitled: "Happiness, Free Enterprise, and Human Flourishing" Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014, at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama gets up to leave after he spoke at an event titled "Happiness, Free Enterprise, and Human Flourishing" at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks at an event titled "Happiness, Free Enterprise, and Human Flourishing" at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama performs a ritual at a prayer meeting during the Festival of Tibet in Gauhati, India, Monday, Feb. 3 2014. The Dalai Lama Sunday inaugurated the five-day festival. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama gives sermons during a five-day festival of Tibet, in Gauhati, India, Monday, Feb. 3, 2014. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, right, presents Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama a Japi, a traditional Assamese hat, during the Festival of Tibet in Gauhati, India, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. The Dalai Lama inaugurated the five-day festival that began Sunday. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, left, greets devotees upon arrival for a lecture at the Nehru stadium in Gauhati, India, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. The Dalai Lama inaugurated a five day festival of Tibet in the city(AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks as he inaugurates the Festival of Tibet, a five-day event, in Gauhati, India, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama speaks as he inaugurates the Festival of Tibet, a five day event in Gauhati, India, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. (AP Photo/Anupam Nath)
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama laughs as he delivers the Jangchup Lamrim teachings at the Sera Monastery, Bylakuppe, 135 miles west of Bangalore, India, Friday, Jan. 3, 2014. The ten-day teachings ended Friday. (AP Photo/Abhishek N.Chinnappa)
Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama greets Sumitra Gandhi Kulkarni, grand-daughter of Mahatma Gandhi during the Jangchup Lamrim teachings at the Sera Monastery in Bylakuppe, 135 miles west of Bangalore, India, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. The ten-day teachings began Dec. 25. (AP Photo/Abhishek N. Chinnappa)
FILE ? In this July 14, 2013 file photo, Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama seated in front of the posters of Mahatma Gandhi, right, the Buddha, center, and himself, left, addresses school children after inaugurating an auditorium at a Tibetan school in Gurupura 210 kilometers (131 miles) southwest of Bangalore, India. A spokesman said the Dalai Lama will not attend memorial services for fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nelson Mandela in South Africa, where the Buddhist spiritual leader has twice been unable to obtain a visa. (AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi, File)
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The animosity between the two sides, and their rivalry for control over Tibetan Buddhism, is at the heart of the debate about reincarnation.
Tibetan Buddhism holds that the soul of a senior lama is reincarnated in the body of a child on his death.
China says the tradition must continue and its officially atheist Communist leaders have the right to approve the Dalai Lama's successor, as a right inherited from China's emperors.
The Nobel Peace Prize-winning monk has suggested his title could end when he dies. China accuses him of betraying, and being disrespectful towards, the Tibetan religion by saying there might be no more reincarnations.
Writing in the state-run Global Times, Zhu Weiqun, chairman of the ethnic and religious affairs committee of the top advisory body to China's parliament, said the Dalai Lama had to respect tradition.
"The Dalai Lama continues to proclaim his reincarnation is a 'purely religious matter' and something only he can decide, but he has no way to compel admiration from the faithful," wrote Zhu, known for his hardline stance on Tibet.
"He's been proclaiming he'll reincarnate as a foreigner, as a bee, as a 'mischievous blond girl', or even proposing a living reincarnation or an end to reincarnation," he added.
"All of this, quite apart from making a fool of Tibetan Buddhism, is completely useless when it comes to extricating him from the difficulty of reincarnation," wrote Zhu, who was involved in the past in Beijing's failed efforts to talk to the Dalai Lama's representatives.
A senior aide to the Dalai Lama, Tenzin Taklha, said there was "no way" Tibetans would accept a successor appointed by China. "The Chinese are following an absurd agenda and we continue to reject it," he said.
In 2011, the Dalai Lama called on exiled Tibetans to nominate an elected leader, or "Sikyong," to lead the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA). Sangay was on track to win re-election with over 65 percent backing in the March 20 vote.
"I hope to do much better. Both on political terms, by holding dialog with the Chinese, and working on welfare issues in the next five years," he told Reuters.
China does not recognize the CTA, which is based in India's Himalayan town of Dharamsala and represents nearly 100,000 exiled Tibetans living in 30 countries including India, Nepal, Canada and the United States.