(TibetanReview.net, Jun25’23) – The replacement, China-appointed 11th Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, is now touring other parts of Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR), after spending 13 days in Qamdo (Tibetan: Chamdo) in its eastern part, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Jun 25.
“Replacement” because he was appointed by the Chinese government in 1995 as an angry rebuff against Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who had recognized the then 6-year-old Gedhun Cheokyi Niyma as the true reincarnation of the previous, 10th Panchen Lama. The Chinese government kidnapped the boy, with his family, days after the Dalai Lama’s proclamation of his recognition and has remained disappeared ever since.
Gyaltsen Norbu arrived in the regional capital Lhasa on Jun 25 and will continue to undertake a series of Buddhist and social activities during his stay, the report said.
In Chamdo, he was reported to have “visited monasteries of different sects of Tibetan Buddhism, held prayer meetings and expounded on the Buddhist sutras.” He was stated to have given “head-touching blessings to more than 130,000 people.”
He was also reported to have visited several other locations in Chamdo, including a station of the Sichuan-Tibet Railway under construction and an economic development zone, among others.
Before Chamdo, he was reported previously to have toured Gyalthang (Shangri-La, Chinese: Xianggelila, previously Zhongdian) County in Yunnan Province; Lithang (Litang), Bathang (Batang), and Dhapa (Daba) counties in Sichuan Province; and Markham (Mangkang) County in TAR. Chamdo and all these areas were parts of the traditional Tibetan province of Kham or Dotoe.
Whereas China previously warned Tibetans to turn up to welcome and receive blessings from him or face punishment during his earlier visits, it was reported to have changed tact during Gyaltsen Norbu’s recent visit to the Kham areas, promising them 100 yuan each for turning up to welcome and pay obeisance to him.
Gyaltsen Norbu lives in Beijing, although the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, southern Tibet, is supposed to be his home, estate and centre of religious activities.
He is currently a member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, vice president of the Buddhist Association of China, and president of the association’s Tibet branch. He is expected to be deployed in China’s move to appoint its own reincarnation of the current Dalai Lama, although this would be patently illegitimate.