The Dalai Lama said in a recent interview with CTV News that he will choose his successor, not the Chinese government, and raised the possibility that there may not be one.

The exiled spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism spoke to CTV's South Asia Bureau Chief Janis Mackey Frayer in Dharamsala, India, where he lives in exile from his home country, which is now occupied by China.

"So naturally my next life is entirely up to me. No one else. And also this is not a political matter," he told Mackey Frayer in the exclusive interview.

Speaking in the monastery in the Himalayan foothills that he has called home for half a century, the 14th Dalai Lama said China does not have the right, as it asserts, to choose the next leader of the Tibetan Buddhists.

Officially, it is illegal for anyone other than Chinese leaders in Beijing to bestow the title of Dalai Lama.

"According to their law, yes it is illegal," the Dalai Lama said. "But nobody respects Chinese law. Chinese law is the protector of Communist power."

The Dalai Lama is considered a separatist by Beijing, though he insists he is only seeking increased autonomy for Tibet.

As a result of China's insistence on playing a lead role in selecting his successor, the Dalai Lama said it may be time to break from the ancient system under which dead Dalai Lamas are reincarnated in the body of a male child.

He suggested that there may not be a successor in the storied line of spiritual leaders to hold his title and the line may end with him.

"I'm proud if I become last Dalai Lama. I feel very happy," he said.

In good health at 76, the respected peace activist and spiritual leader said he would leave detailed written instructions for the future when he is around 90 years old, meaning those with an eye to the future may have little direction for years to come on what will happen next.

In another departure from tradition, the Dalai Lama has shifted the distribution of duties in the Tibetan government in exile. He has recused himself from political responsibilities, instead leaving those duties to an elected prime minister and cabinet.

That cabinet includes Canadian Dicky Chhoyang.

"The issue we have with China is not the Chinese people, it's really with the hard-line policies," Chhoyang told Mackey Frayer.

Supporters of the Dalai Lama worry that the push for Tibetan autonomy will flounder without the guidance of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, who is known and respected by many leaders around the world.

That scenario, Mackey Frayer said, is desired by the Chinese government.