Missing Panchen Lama in Tibet, says China

“As far as I know, his family and he are now living a very good life in Tibet...He and his family are reluctant to be disturbed and they want to live an ordinary life,” Padma Choling, chairman of the Tibet autonomous regional government, told media at the National People’s Congress meet here.

Gendun Choekyi Nyima, now 20, was named as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama in 1995 by the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism’s highest figure whom Beijing views as a separatist. The boy and his family, who are from a remote part of Tibet, have not been heard from since.

Chinese officials, however, selected another boy, Gyaltsen Norbu (also 20), as the Panchen, to counter the Dalai Lama’s nominee.

The so-called “Panchen Lama” picked by the Dalai Lama was illegitimate and invalid, Choling said, adding that the “soul boy” picked by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama was a victim. The Panchen Lama appointed by Dalai Lama and his family are now living a good life as ordinary citizens in Tibet, and some of his elder sisters and brothers are in universities or have already started working, Choling said.

“The reincarnation cannot be decided by certain individuals, it must follow strict religious rituals,” Choling said and asserted that the 11th Panchen Lama, appointed by the Chinese government was deeply loved and supported by the people of all ethnic groups in Tibet.

The Panchen Lama goes back to Tibet every year and holds religious activities at Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery in Xigaze, the seat of successive Panchen Lamas, he said.

Cholang said Tibet has nothing to hide and will make visits to the region more easy in the future. “As always, we welcome tourists, journalists and government officials to visit Tibet and take a look there to better understand the region’s current situation,” he said, quoting a Chinese saying that “seeing is believing.”

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