(TibetanReview.net, Aug31’21) – China said Aug 30 that Gyaltsen Norbu whom it chose to take the place of the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Niyma, Tibet’s second most prominent religious figure, in 1995 had concluded an eight-day tour of Nagchu (Chinese: Naqu) City. The prefecture-level city covers the sprawling, mostly cold-desert, northern region of Tibet Autonomous Region.
While in Lhasa – after arriving from his residence in Beijing on Jul 30 – the “Panchen Lama” attended the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Tibet’s peaceful liberation, said China’s official Xinhua news agency Aug 30. However, there was no report about his presence in the official media coverage of the event, which was held on Aug 19. This was apparently due to the urgency to bring full focus on Wang Yang, China’s top political advisor and authority on ethnic affairs, who led a delegation from Beijing over Aug 18-20 for the occasion.
The report said that during his tour of Nagchu, the “Panchen Lama” visited several temples, where he held prayer meetings and expounded on the Buddhist sutras. He also performed head-touching rituals and led prayers in chanting sutras to pray for world peace, the country’s prosperity and well-being of the people.
He was also stated to have visited a heating plant, a glacier, and two industrial demonstration bases.
Meanwhile, the fate or whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama recognized by the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, has continued to remain unknown ever since he was kidnapped, with his family, by the Chinese government in 1995.
The replacement 11th Panchen Lama throne-holder is currently a member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, China’s top political advisory body. He is also a vice president of the Buddhist Association of China, and the president of the association’s Tibet branch. All are titular posts with no authority but only responsibility to toe the Communist party line.
In his capacity as the “11th Panchen Lama”, Gyaltsen Norbu is expected to play a key role in “recognizing” and installing a 15th Dalai Lama approved by China even though the current, 14th throne-holder has already made it clear that it would be illogical for him to be born in a territory controlled by Beijing. He has vowed to leave clear instructions for the recognition of his reincarnation.