In 1368 the Ming Dynasty replaced the Yuan Dynasty in China, and inherited the right to rule Tibet.
The central government of the Ming Dynasty retained most of the titles and ranks of official positions instituted during the Yuan Dynasty. In the central and eastern parts of present-day Tibet, the Dbus-Gtsang Itinerant High Commandery and the Mdo-khams Itinerant High Commandery were set up respectively. Equivalent to provincial-level military organs, they operated under the Shaanxi Itinerant High Commandery and, at the same time, handled civil administration. In Ngari in west Tibet, the E-Li-Si Army-Civilian Marshal Office was instituted. Leading officials of these organs were all appointed by the central government.
The third emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Chengzu (reigned 1403-1424) saw the advantage of combined Buddhist religious and political power in Tibet and rivalry between sects occupying different areas. So he conferred honorific titles on religious leaders in various parts of Tibet such as the "prince of Dharma," "prince" and "national master in Tantrism." Succession to such princeship needed the approval of the emperor, who would send an envoy to confer the official title on each new prince. Only then could the new prince assume his role. According to the stipulations of the Ming court, the prince had to dispatch his envoy or come in person to the capital to participate in the New Year's Day celebration each year and present his memorial of congratulation and tribute. The Ming court had detailed stipulations that limited the dates for presenting tributes, the number of personnel allowed in the capital, the route to be taken, and also provisions to be supplied by local authorities along the route. The tablets wishing longevity to the emperors before which the prayers had to prostrate themselves are still kept in some of the monasteries in Tibet.
The Dalai Lama and the Bainqen Lama are the two leading incarnation hierarchies of the Gelug Sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The Gelug Sect rose during the Ming Dynasty, and the 3rd Dalai Lama was the abbot of one of the sect's monasteries. The central government of the Ming Dynasty showed him special favor by allowing him to pay tribute. In 1587 he was granted the title of Dorjichang or Vajradhara Dalai Lama.
Any official of the Tibetan local government who offended the law was punished by the central government.