China curtails ‘Panchen Lama’ exposure to restrict publicity for Tibetan Buddhism

Panchen Lama Gyaltsen Norbu.

(, Nov20’20) – A propaganda directive issued by China’s central Party authorities to state media at the beginning of this year said that no first-page prominence should be given to the Tibetan New Year greeting from its Panchen Lama Gyaltsen Norbu, reported Nov 18. The purpose was seen to be to not give prominence to Tibetan Buddhism which has been gaining popularity in the vastly atheist country in recent years.

“Regarding the Panchen Lama’s Tibetan New Year greeting, it must not appear on front pages. Control the temperature in interactive [comment] sections, do not set up topics or hot searches. Do not increase propagation about or hype Tibetan Buddhism,” the report quoted the directive as sayings. It was stated to be one of seven directives released on Feb 24, 2020.

China appointed Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama in 1995, some months after it disappeared the then six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima whom the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, had already recognized and proclaimed as the 11th Panchen Lama after carrying out the necessary rituals. He has not been seen ever since.

The Panchen Lama is Tibet’s second most prominent religious figure after the Dalai Lama.

China requires Gyaltsen Norbu to live in Beijing although the Tashi Lhunpo monastic estate in Tibet’s Shigatse City is the traditional seat of the Panchen Lamas.

His Tibetan New Year greeting early this year was a public statement praising the CCP’s religious policies.


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