The Dalai Lama has warned there could be two reincarnations of Tibetan Buddhism's highest spiritual leader following his death, and that a candidate chosen by communist China was not to be trusted.
The comment has prompted Beijing to say the reincarnation "must comply with Chinese laws and regulations".
The 14th Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet for India 60 years ago to the day last Sunday disguised as a soldier, said he expected his reincarnated being to be discovered in India this time around.
"In future, in case you see two Dalai Lamas come, one from here, in free country, one chosen by Chinese, then nobody will trust, nobody will respect [the one chosen by China]," he said.
"So that's an additional problem for the Chinese! It's possible, it can happen," he added, laughing.
The 83-year-old is regarded as a dangerous separatist by China, which seized control of Tibet in 1950.
This week, when China's Foreign Ministry was questioned about the Dalai Lama's stance, spokesman Geng Shuang said: "I knew you would come up with this question, and let me give you an authoritative reply.
"The institution of reincarnation of the Dalai Lama has been in existence for several hundred years — the 14th Dalai Lama himself was found and recognised following religious rituals and historical conventions, and his succession was approved by the then Central Government.
"Therefore reincarnation of living Buddhas including the Dalai Lama must comply with Chinese laws and regulations and follow religious rituals and historical conventions."
He said the "reincarnation system is respected and protected" by legal instruments and that the "Chinese Government implements the policy of freedom of religious belief".
The communist state has a history of interfering in religious practices, as well as launching a number of crackdowns on various religious groups.
In the last year alone this has included interning Uyghur Muslims in camps in Xinjiang, as well as pulling Bibles from shelves, burning crosses and raiding Christian churches.
Ahead of a reincarnation, adherents of the Buddhist faith look for signs and visions in order to find the next Dalai Lama, including testing whether a young child can identify items that belonged to the late Dalai Lama.
The 14th Dalai Lama, who was born Lhamo Dhondup to a farming family and discovered at the age of two, said that China placed great importance on his reincarnation.
"They're more concerned about the [reincarnation of the] next Dalai Lama than me," he said.
In the past, the Dalai Lama has written about his concerns that his reincarnated form would be hijacked for political ends.
He said while Dalai Lamas functioned as both spiritual and political leaders of Tibet for hundreds of years, since 1642, he had "voluntarily brought this to an end, proud and satisfied that we can pursue the kind of democratic system of government flourishing elsewhere in the world".
"In fact, as far back as 1969, I made clear that concerned people should decide whether the Dalai Lama's reincarnations should continue in the future," he said.
"However, in the absence of clear guidelines, should the concerned public express a strong wish for the Dalai Lamas to continue, there is an obvious risk of vested political interests misusing the reincarnation system to fulfil their own political agenda."
He said there needed to be clear guidelines surrounding his succession "so that there is no room for doubt or deception".