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Chinese Panchen tipped for ministerial rank?

www.TibetanReview.net, Feb 20, 2008

In an apparent upping of its ante against the Dalai Lama and others seeking a negotiated resolution of the Tibet issue, China is likely to appoint its Panchen Lama Gyatsen Norbu a Standing Committee member of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the Chinese parliament, as early as Mar 2008, according to a Reuters report Feb 13, citing an anonymous source with knowledge of government policy on Tibet.

“He is now an adult. He can vote and be voted for,” it quoted another unnamed source familiar with government policy towards religion and ethnic minorities as saying.

Gyaltsen Norbu turned 18 on Feb 13. Reuters said a parliamentary spokesman had declined to comment when asked to confirm the report.

The elite membership is equivalent to a cabinet minister’s rank. The NPC is to convene its annual session on Mar 5, when Gyaltsen may be inducted to the rank.

The Standing Committee membership is likely to be a steppingstone for Gyaltsen for elevation to a higher post, equivalent to a vice-premier’s rank. “The 11th will eventually become a vice-chairman,” Reuters quoted a third source with ties to the leadership as saying.

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