(TibetanReview.net, Jun08’23) – Whereas it was previously reported that the Chinese government was threatening and punishing Tibetans for not seeking blessings from its choice of the 11th Panchen Lama, Tibet’s second most influential religious figure, it is now alleged to be paying them to pay their obeisance to him. The Chinese government choice, Gyaltsen Norbu, is reported to have just concluded a tour of parts of Tibet’s traditional province of Kham, which today forms parts of TAR; Qinghai; Sichuan; and Yunnan provinces.
The Chinese government is paying 100 yuan (about US$14) to each Tibetan who visits and receives blessings from Gyaltsen Norbu, who is not recognized by most Tibetans as the true reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Jun 7.
This is all the more because Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama recognized by Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has continued to remain disappeared ever since he was kidnapped by the Chinese government in May 1995.
Gyaltsen Norbu has recently completed a tour of Gyalthang (Shangri-La, Chinese: Xianggelila) County in Yunnan; Lithang (Litang), Bathang (Batang), and Dhapa (Daba) counties in Sichuan; and Markham (Mangkang) County in Tibet Autonomous Region. He visited Gyalthang Sumtsen Monastery and Lithang Monastery during the tour, the report said.
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“The Chinese government was reported to have told the local Tibetans that anyone who attended and received Gyaltsen Norbu’s blessings would be rewarded with 100 yuan,” the report quoted a resident as saying.
“The Chinese government has also put in lots of effort to stage Norbu’s visit in Lithang and Bathang as a very grandiose and popular event.”
The latest visit was stated to be Gyaltsen Norbu’s third in the area, with the atmosphere being slightly different from his last visit in 2021, another resident has said.
“In July 2021, Tibetans were forced to attend and receive his blessings and there were tight restrictions in those areas where he was,” the second resident has said. “Restrictions are not as severe this time compared to his last visit and also there were only a handful of Tibetans who went to see Gyaltsen Norbu in Bathang and Lithang.”
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The Panchen Lama, when in a position to do so, has historically played a leading role in the discovery and recognition of the reincarnations of the Dalai Lamas and China is seen as positioning Gyaltsen Norbu, despite his lack of legitimacy and credibility, to ensure its own choice of successor to the current Dalai Lama.
The Dalai Lama also historically plays the leading role in the discovery and recognition of the Panchen Lama reincarnations, which explains the illegitimacy of Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama and any role he may be made to play in the choice of the next Dalai Lama.
An angry China kidnapped the then 6-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima in 1995, days after he was recognized by the Dalai Lama as the authentic reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama. It then installed Gyaltsen Norbu, son of a communist party member-couple, in his place.
The latter is currently the youngest member of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a Vice-Chairman of the Buddhist Association of China and the head of the latter’s Tibet branch, although he lives in Beijing.