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China’s Panchen touring Tibet amid clamour for Dalai Lama-recognized lama’s whereabouts

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(, May19’22) – Gyaltsen Norbu, the Chinese government-appointed 11th Panchen Lama is visiting Tibet from his home in Beijing for a series of religious and social functions, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency May 19. The visit takes place as exile Tibetans led a renewed international call on China to account for the 11th Panchen Lama Gedhun Choekyi Nyima on the anniversary of his abduction by it 27 years ago on May 17.

The Panchen Lama is Tibet’s second most prominent religious figure. The Chinese government kidnapped the six-year-old boy just three days after he was proclaimed by the Dalai Lama on May 14, 1995 as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama. He has not been seen ever since. Later in the year, China installed another boy, Gyaltsen Norbu, in his place, and designated him as the 11th Panchen Lama.

China has since made Gyaltsen Norbu a member of the Standing Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a vice president of the Buddhist Association of China, and the president of the association’s Tibet branch. But he lives in Beijing and arrived in Lhasa on May 10 for his current visit.

It is not clear what he has been doing in Tibet all this while. The Xinhua report said he visited the Jokhang Temple on May 18 morning, chanted sutras, prayed, and presented hadas (ceremonial greeting and offering scarves) to Buddhist statues.

He was then stated to have led more than 100 monks in chanting sutras, and prayed for world peace, national prosperity and stability as well as people’s well-being, before giving head-touching blessings to monks for nearly an hour.

It is not clear how long his visit will last. The report said that besides performing his duties at the Tibet branch of the Buddhist Association of China, the “Panchen Rinpoche” will attend a series of religious and social activities during his stay in Lhasa.


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