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“Despite His Holiness’ request, the people and the government do not feel competent to lead ourselves,” he said, calling the transition “a long and difficult process.”

In the past, the parliament-in-exile officially has asked the Dalai Lama not to give up any of his powers.

Srikanth Kondapalli, a professor of Chinese studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, said it was clear that succession worries were behind the announcement. The Dalai Lama, he said, wants to create a stable political system that can hold the Tibetan community together on its own.

The Dalai Lama “has been making some efforts at democratization for a long time, to forestall any anarchic situation in the aftermath of his death.”

Speaking to the Associated Press in 2010, the Dalai Lama said he and his senior advisers regularly discussed his death and its affect on the Tibetan movement.

“When I pass away, when I die, of course (there will be) a setback. Very serious setback. … But then, this younger generation will carry this on. There is no question.”

While Beijing claims Tibet has been part of Chinese territory for centuries, Tibet was a deeply isolated and feudal theocracy until 1951, when Chinese troops occupied its capital city, Lhasa.

Beijing’s rule has brought immense changes to Tibet, ranging from high-speed trains to modern universities, but Tibetans in exile say their unique culture and religion are on the verge of extinction under Chinese rule, which has seen a massive influx of ethnic Han Chinese migrants.

China regards the Dalai Lama as a militant separatist intent on overthrowing Beijing’s control. The Dalai Lama insists he simply wants more autonomy for Tibet within China.

On Thursday, he once again called on Beijing to ease its rule.

“The ongoing oppression of the Tibetan people has provoked widespread, deep resentment against current official policies,” he said. “Tibetans live in constant fear and anxiety.”

Security appeared to have been ramped up Wednesday in Lhasa, with hotel staffers saying police were doing more street patrols. The anniversary of the uprising is a sensitive time in Tibet. In 2008, unrest erupted in Lhasa and other Tibetan areas when monks tried to commemorate the 1959 revolt.

Tim Sullivan reported from New Delhi. Tini Tran, Isolda Morillo and Gillian Wong in Beijing contributed to this report.