China's Lama speaks in Hong Kong
|Publisher||Radio Free Asia|
|Publication Date||26 April 2012|
|Cite as||Radio Free Asia, China's Lama speaks in Hong Kong, 26 April 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4faa706ac.html [accessed 23 April 2014]|
The Beijing-appointed Panchen Lama makes his first appearance outside mainland China.
The Beijing-appointed Panchen Lama at a Buddhist ceremony in Hong Kong, April 25, 2012. AFP
The Chinese government paraded its handpicked Panchen Lama in Hong Kong on Thursday, on his first trip outside mainland China, as Beijing grooms him to succeed Tibet's spiritual leader the Dalai Lama when he dies.
The controversial Gyaincain Norbu delivered a keynote speech in Mandarin at the Third World Buddhist Forum, a showcase for China's cultural diplomacy, attended by more than 1,000 monks and scholars from 50 countries.
Chinese authorities have had difficulty persuading Tibetans to accept the 22-year-old Gyaincain Norbu as the official face of Tibetan Buddhism in China. Tibetans says he is not the true reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, the religion's second-holiest figure.
Officially atheist Beijing named him to be the Panchen Lama in 1995 in a retaliatory action after the exiled Dalai Lama identified six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima as the reincarnation of the second-highest monk in Tibetan Buddhism.
The boy selected by the Dalai Lama disappeared together with his family soon after and has not been heard from since. Most Tibetans believe Chinese authorities are keeping him in detention.
Gyaincain Norbu's rare public appearance came just one day after the 23rd birthday on Wednesday of his rival, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima.
Thubten Samphel, a former spokesman for the Tibet government-in-exile in Dharamsala in India, told the Associated Press news agency that Gyaincain Norbu's appearance at the Hong Kong forum was part of a bid for broader acceptance.
"We feel that China is trying to find a platform for him to be accepted by the larger community, which will not happen, I think," he said.
At the forum, Gyaincain Norbu spoke about the importance of the "science of the mind" for harmony in the contemporary world. "Current society values external science and technology over the inner sciences," he said.
Gyaincain Norbu made his political debut in 2010 at the annual session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) in Beijing, appearing as a national committee member of the top political advisory body.
Educated under the close watch of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, he is rarely seen in public but appeared at the two previous World Buddhist Forums, held in mainland Chinese cities in 2006 and 2009, when he gave addresses in Tibetan and English.
Missing Panchen Lama
Meanwhile, Tibetans around the world marked the birthday of the Dalai Lama-appointed Panchen Lama with calls for his release.
In Dharamsala, India, where the headquarters of the Tibetan government-in-exile are located, a group of Tibetan NGOs conducted a petition drive Wednesday demanding his release.
Chinese authorities have not revealed his whereabouts, but reiterate that he is "safe" and living a normal life.
An official in the Press Section of the Chinese Embassy in New Delhi on Wednesday told Phayul, a pro-Tibetan independence website, that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima is "currently in ... China along with his family and he doesn't want to be disturbed."
The Dalai Lama, who fled to India after a failed 1959 uprising against Chinese occupation, has been the face and symbol of the Tibetan freedom struggle for more than five decades.
The 76-year-old Dalai Lama said last year that he will decide around age 90 whether he will have a reincarnated successor, but added that Beijing will have no say in who will succeed him as Tibet's spiritual leader if he decides the tradition should continue.
Tensions over Chinese rule in Tibet and Tibetan-populated areas have risen in recent months following a wave of protests calling for the return of the Dalai Lama.
Since 2009, 35 Tibetans have self-immolated in protest against rule by Beijing in the provinces of Gansu, Sichuan, and Qinghai, triggering ramped-up security across those areas and in the neighboring Tibet Autonomous Region.
Reported by RFA's Tibetan service. Written in English by Rachel Vandenbrink.