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China’s Panchen concludes six-month western Tibet tour

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(TibetanReview.net, Dec09’23) – The Chinese government-appointed Panchen Lama Gyaincain Norbu has concluded on Dec 6 a six-month tour of Xizang Autonomous Region, engaging in a series of Buddhist and social activities, according to China’s official Xinhua news agency Dec 7. He lives in Beijing, although Tashilhunpo in Tibet’s Shigatse city is supposed to be his seat monastery.

China recently rechristened Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) as Xizang or Xizang Autonomous Region to distinguish it from Tibet proper, which is about double its about 1.228 million sq km area but which it insists does not exist anymore under its occupation rule.

A major highlight of his visit was his ordination of Buddhist monks at Tashilhunpo Monastery between Oct 6 and Nov 7. This was the first time he ordained monks of the monastery, which indicates that his Buddhist attainments and religious status have further improved, the report said.

During his stay in Xigaze (Tibetan: Shigatse), “Panchen Rinpoche” attended a series of Buddhist and social activities in various localities, giving head-touching blessings to a total of more than 45,000 Buddhists, the report added.

During his six-month tour, Gyaincain Norbu, in his capacity as the 11th Panchen Lama, was stated to have visited the cities of Qamdo (Chamdo), Lhasa and Xigaze, performing duties as the president of the Tibet branch of the Buddhist Association of China. Before that, he was reported to have visited historical Tibetan areas outside TAR.

His current official titles also include member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and vice president of the Buddhist Association of China.

He was stated to have begun his TAR tour on Jun 5 in Qamdo, spending 13 days there, before arriving in Lhasa on Jun 18, which was followed by his arrival at Tashilhunpo on Sep 12.

China has maintained complete silence on the whereabouts, or indeed, the very fate of the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima. He was recognized and proclaimed by Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, on May 14, 1995 at the age of 6. China kidnapped and disappeared him on May 17, 1995 and installed Gyaincain Norbu in his place on Dec 8, 1995.

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