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"We Tibetans are looking for a legitimate and meaningful autonomy, an arrangement that would enable Tibetans to live within the framework of the People’s Republic of China."

China's Panchen Lama vows to defend ethnic unity: report

March 7, 2010

Agence France-Presse (AFP)
March 5, 2010

BEIJING -- China's controversial choice as the
second highest Tibetan Buddhist leader, the
Panchen Lama, has vowed to defend national and
ethnic unity in his debut as a delegate to a parliamentary advisory body.

"I have shouldered the mission of safeguarding
national unity and ethnic solidarity since I was
enthroned," Gyaincain Norbu told the official Xinhua news agency late Thursday.

"Now, such a sense of responsibility is becoming even stronger."

Gyaincain Norbu was chosen by China as the 11th
Panchen Lama in a 1995 ceremony overseen by the
Communist Party, which had rejected a boy
selected by the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader.

The 20-year-old, who was elected vice president
of the nation's state-run Buddhist Association
last month, has also become a delegate to the
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), an advisory body.

The CPPCC, which in theory advises the main
rubber-stamp National People's Congress (NPC),
opened its annual session on Wednesday. The NPC
convened on Friday for a 10-day session.

In the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy, the Panchen
Lama is second only to the Dalai Lama, who is
persona non grata in China as the government
accuses him of fomenting unrest in his Himalayan homeland, a claim he denies.

The Dalai Lama's choice for Panchen Lama, Gedhun
Choekyi Nyima, has disappeared from public view
and is believed to be under a form of house arrest.

China has been steadily raising the profile of
the Panchen Lama as he has grown up. In recent
appearances he has routinely praised the
Communist Party leadership and China's rule of Tibet.

Anti-China riots erupted in the Tibetan capital
Lhasa two years ago. Beijing says 21 people were
killed by "rioters" and that security forces killed only one "insurgent".

But the Tibetan government-in-exile, headed by
the Dalai Lama, claims that more than 200 people
were killed and some 1,000 hurt in the unrest and subsequent crackdown.
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