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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 says missing Panchen Lama is living in Tibet

March 8, 2010

By GILLIAN WONG (AP)
The Associate Press (AP)
March 7, 2010

BEIJING -- A boy who disappeared after being
named Tibetan Buddhism's second-highest figure by
the Dalai Lama is living with his family
somewhere in Tibet, the Himalayan region's
Chinese-appointed governor said Sunday.

Speaking to reporters in Beijing, Padma Choling
gave no other details about the boy, Gendun
Choekyi Nyima, saying only that his siblings were
studying at a university or working in regular jobs.

"As far as I know, his family and he are now
living a very good life in Tibet," Padma Choling
said at a news conference on the sidelines of
China's annual legislative session. "He and his
family are reluctant to be disturbed, they want to live an ordinary life."

Gendun Choekyi Nyima, 20, was named the
reincarnation of the Panchen Lama in 1995 by the
Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism's highest figure
whom Beijing reviles. He and his family, who are
from a remote part of Chinese-controlled Tibet, have not been heard from since.

Instead, Chinese officials selected another boy,
Gyaltsen Norbu, as the Panchen, but he is not
generally recognized as such by many Tibetans.

Gyaltsen Norbu, who is also 20, is emerging as
Beijing's choice to supplant the Dalai Lama as
the public face of Tibetan Buddhism and has taken
on an increasingly political role in recent
years. He has made appearances with Communist
Party leaders praising Chinese rule over Tibet
and was recently appointed to the main government advisory body.

Padma Choling said the Chinese-appointed Panchen
works out of his main temple in the western
Tibetan city of Shigatse, and "enjoys popular
support from people of all ethnic groups."

China's decision to overrule the Dalai Lama was
seen as a move to diminish his influence over
Tibetans and strengthen central government
control over the deeply religious region that it
says has been a part of China for centuries.

Communist troops occupied Tibet in 1950 and the
Dalai Lama fled into exile nine years later amid
a popular uprising against Chinese rule.

Beijing says China's government has had the
historical right to appoint leading Tibetan
lamas, and Padma Choling reiterated its
insistence that Gendun Choekyi Nyima was not a valid Panchen.

"I believe that he himself is a victim of this practice," Padma Choling said.
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