China has launched an online register of “living Buddhas” in an attempt to root out impostors trying to swindle believers out of money.
The database contains the names, photos and details of 870 verified incarnations of Buddha, the state news agency Xinhua reported on Tuesday.
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The agency cites the example of Wu Darong, an impostor who fooled followers including actor Zhang Tielin, and was later exposed.
At least one living Buddha has given his approval to the system, telling Xinhua the move promoted transparency.
“As a living Buddha, I feel genuinely happy about it,” said Drukhang Thubten Khedrup.
In Tibetan Buddhism, the souls of previous religious leaders manifest in others after death.
There has been no response from the current Dalai Lama but the Tibetan religious leader has previously rejected what he calls Chinese attempts to split Tibetan Buddhism.
In July last year, the Dalai Lama said the Chinese government was interfering in his succession by choosing its own successor.
China, which regards the Dalai Lama as a dangerous separatist, has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since Communist troops took over the region in 1950.
The Dalai Lama fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule.