Panchen Lama meets Xi, calls for ‘na­tional unity’

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

A man Bei­jing has named as one of the most se­nior fig­ures in Ti­betan Bud­dhism met with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, state me­dia said Thurs­day, as Com­mu­nist au­thor­i­ties seek to win sup­port for their poli­cies in the re­gion.

Gyain­cain Norbu, who China ap­pointed as its choice of 11th Panchen Lama, was asked by Xi to carry on the “pa­tri­otic tra­di­tion” of Ti­betan Bud­dhism dur­ing Wed­nes­day’s meet­ing, the China Daily news­pa­per said.

Many Ti­betans do not rec­og­nize Norbu as the Panchen Lama — the sec­ond most revered fig­ure in the Gelug school of Ti­betan Bud­dhism.

Ti­betan spir­i­tual leader the Dalai Lama’s choice for Panchen lama, Gen­dun Choekyi Ny­ima, was de­tained by Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties in 1995 at the age of six and has not been seen since.

China’s Panchen Lama has been la­beled by Ti­betan groups as a sym­bol of Bei­jing’s ef­forts to ex­ert con­trol over lo­cal re­li­gious prac­tices.

“Panchen Lama promised .... to unswerv­ingly safe­guard na­tional unity and eth­nic har­mony,” the China Daily said.

“He also said he would bear in mind Pres­i­dent Xi’s ad­vice, to learn hard and work vig­or­ously to make his con­tri­bu­tion to Ti­betan Bud­dhism and so­cial­ist con­struc­tion,” the re­port added.

China of­ten uses terms such as “pa­tri­otic” to mean al­le­giance to po­lit­i­cal au­thor­i­ties.

The Dalai Lama is still widely revered by Ti­betans in China and the meet­ing came just a month be­fore his 80th birth­day.

The spir­i­tual leader fled to In­dia in 1959 af­ter an aborted up­ris­ing against Chi­nese rule and is ac­cused by Bei­jing of seek­ing in­de­pen­dence for Ti­bet.

Xi said he ex­pected the Panchen Lama to grow into “a Ti­betan Bud­dhist leader with great re­li­gious acu­men, deeply loved by the monks and secular fol­low­ers,” the re­port said.

China’s Panchen Lama — who is thought to be in his mid- twen­ties — has made nu­mer­ous tightly scripted public ap­pear­ances since he turned 18, and he made his first trip out­side of the Chi­nese main­land with a visit to Hong Kong in 2012.

The 10th Panchen Lama died in 1989 af­ter a tu­mul­tuous re­la­tion­ship with China’s com­mu­nist lead­ers which saw him lauded and later im­pris­oned.

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