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China elevates its Panchen Lama
By Gaurav Bisht | HT
DHARAMSHALA, India, 5 February 2010
The election of China-appointed 11th Panchen Lama Gyaltsen Norbu to vice president of Buddhist Association of China has invoked a sharp reaction from Dharamshala-based Tibetan government-in-exile.
The Tibetan government has dubbed the election held in Beijing during the eighth conference of the association as “another attempt” by China to undermine the popularity of the exiled leader the Dalai Lama.
Gyaltsen Norbu, 19, recognised as the 11th Panchen Lama by China was elected as one of the 25 vice-presidents of the Buddhist Association of China on 3 February.
“China’s effort to recognise Panchen Lama will not affect the respect and devotion of Tibetan people towards the Dalai Lama,” said Thubten Samphel, a spokesman of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, recognised by the Dalai Lama in 1995 as the 11th Panchen Lama, is revered as the second highest spiritual leader.
Tibetan exiles claim that China abducted Nyima and his family, and recognised Gyaltsen Norbu as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama. According to Tibetan exiles, Nyima is still in Chinese custody.
Tibetan exiles had been carrying a worldwide campaign to pressurise China for release of Nyima referred as the “youngest prisoner of the world.”
Gyaltsen Norbu’s elevation to vice president of the Buddhist association comes after ninth round of “inconclusive” talks between the envoys of the Dalai Lama and Chinese government representatives.
China again rejected the Dalai Lama’s demand of substantial autonomy to China-ruled Tibet.
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