Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, says he may name his successor before he dies, rather than rely on the centuries-old selection process involving reincarnation, to avoid interference from China.
In an interview with a Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun published Tuesday, the Dalai Lama said the Tibetan people would not support a Chinese-appointed successor.
The 72-year-old Nobel prize laureate says he may have a group of high ranking Buddhist monks democratically select his replacement.
In July, China issued a regulation that requires all reincarnations, including the Dalai Lama's, to be approved by the government.
The Dalai Lama began a visit to Japan last week, but officials there put restrictions on his activities to avoid offending China.
Beijing has accused the Dalai Lama of seeking political independence for Tibet. But the exiled spiritual leader says he is only seeking autonomy.
China has ruled Tibet since 1950. At the end of the decade, the Dalai Lama fled the region to live with followers in India.
Since the 1980s, The Dalai Lama has been struggling to negotiate an autonomous status agreement for Tibet.
Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.