China’s Panchen makes ‘political debut’

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Twenty-year-old Panchen Lama, being projected by China as the Dalai Lama’s successor has made his “political debut” by making a maiden address at a prominent monastery in Tibet, the state media said on Tuesday.
The 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, addressed for the first time a congregation at Tashilhunpo Monastery in Tibet, the designated home of successive Panchen Lamas since 14th century.
Qoigyijabu was appointed by China as the 11th Panchen Lama repudiating the designation of six-year-old Gedhun Choekyi Nyima for the same post by Dalai Lama in 1995, took his seat at the Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse on Monday. He took his seat nearly 15 years after his appointment and addressed a gathering of monks.
The Chinese state television, CCTV projected it as a “political debut” by the young monk to take over mantle of high seat of Tibetan Buddhism without referring to Dalai Lama, who is on exile in India at Dharamshala.
China considers Dalai Lama as a separatist, colluding with anti-China forces to separate Tiber from the country.
“The monastery is the home base of Panchen Lama. Though he doesn’t live there most of the time, the close connection makes it appropriate for him to preach there,” the CCTV report said. The Lama lives mostly in Beijing.
“With the strong support of the Central (Chinese) government and believers he is expected to play a bigger role for modern China,” a TV reporter covering the event said.
The young monk’s address at Tashilhunpo Monastery built in 1447 by the First Dailai Lama for Panchen Lama, regarded as the second in command of the Tibetan Buddhist remained home for successive Panchen Lamas.

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