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"On my part, I remain committed to the process of dialogue. It is my firm belief that dialogue and a willingness to look with honesty and clarity at the reality of Tibet can lead us to a viable solution."

China's Panchen Lama says Tibet needs Communists

March 17, 2009

March 16, 2009

BEIJING, March 16 (Reuters) - The Tibetan
anointed by Beijing as the region's
second-ranking spiritual leader was quoted by
Chinese state media as saying that Tibet could
only have a "bright future" under Communist Party leadership.

His comments came less than a week after the
exiled Dalai Lama said 50 years under Communism
had brought "untold suffering" and turned the
region he once ruled as spiritual and temporal leader into a "living hell".

Gyaltsen Norbu, recognised by China as the 11th
incarnation of the Panchen Lama but spurned by
many Tibetans, said he would guide Tibetan
Buddhists in their quest to adapt to "socialist
society", the official Xinhua news agency said.

Visiting an exhibition on the "50th anniversary
of Democratic Reforms in Tibet" in Beijing, the
19-year-old said Chinese rule had brought progress and happiness to his people.

"People living in Tibet should cherish the
prosperity and happy lives today," Xinhua quoted the Panchen Lama as saying.

March is the sensitive 50th anniversary of the
Dalai Lama's flight to India and the first
anniversary of deadly riots in Lhasa that sparked
waves of protests in Tibetan areas. China brands
the Nobel Peace Prize winner a separatist.

This year Beijing has promised stability and
sealed off ethnic Tibetan parts of the country to
all foreigners, while launching a campaign to
celebrate achievements it says include economic
progress and the abolition of serfdom.

Many Tibetans outside China dispute these
achievements, saying they were launching their
own reforms and Beijing's depiction of
traditional society is a distorted caricature.

China has poured billions of dollars into
modernising Tibet but a dispute over the Panchen
Lama's position has left a void that could foster
conflict and violence after the death of the Dalai Lama, now 73.

Another 5-year-old boy was chosen by the Dalai
Lama as successor to the 10th Panchen Lama in
1995, but he has disappeared from public view since his selection became known.

China's critics called him the world's youngest
political prisoner. Beijing says he does not want
publicity and has a normal life with his family.
(Reporting by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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