As if on cue, the Chinese Communist Party last month reasserted its intention to reincarnate the next Dalai Lama –– a rather rich assertion from a group that has repeatedly called him a separatist, a terrorist, and among the “three evil forces.”

The strange battle over the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation has long been a CCP obsession. Already in 2007, the party passed measures that give it the authority to decide which Buddhist lamas are worthy of rebirth.

The current Dalai Lama –– now at the seasoned age of 88 –– has subsequently hinted that he might then not reincarnate. To protect Tibetan Buddhism against the CCP, he could bring the lineage to an end.

The CCP has since been incensed –– and, under Xi Jinping, it has doubled down on efforts to ensure that not only will the Dalai Lama be reborn, but that he will be reborn in keeping with the CCP’s guidelines.

“The reincarnation of living Buddhas, including the Dalai Lama, must comply with Chinese laws and regulations,” says the CCP’s foreign ministry mouthpiece. This, maintain China’s communist party leaders, is how it has always been done.