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Last Updated: Monday, 16 August, 2004, 00:20 GMT 01:20 UK
China's Panchen Lama visits Tibet
The 11th Panchen Lama worships the statue of Sakyamuni during a religious ceremony in the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa
Norbu is not the Dalai Lama's choice
The boy picked by the Chinese authorities as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama has visited Tibet's most sacred temple.

Gyaltsen Norbu was shown on Chinese state television being eagerly greeted by monks.

Norbu was named 11th Panchen Lama, second to the Dalai Lama in Tibetan Buddhism, after officials rejected the exiled Dalai Lama's own choice.

In Lhasa on Sunday the 15-year-old performed a number of rituals.

After placing a ceremonial cloth around a large statue of the founder of Buddhism, Norbu presented monks with red ribbons.

It is his third visit to the Himalayan capital and one of a handful of public appearances.

'Missing' Panchen Lama

In 1995, the Dalai Lama had named Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, then aged 6, as the true reincarnation of the Panchen Lama.

Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, who at age 6 in 1995 was named as the true reincarnation of the Panchen Lama by the Dalai Lama
Nyima's whereabouts are unknown
The Chinese authorities have not revealed his whereabouts but it is thought the boy is under house arrest.

Deputy mayor of Lhasa Xiao Bai said on Saturday Nyima is "in good health and leading a normal and happy life".

"He's a senior in high school and his grades are quite good, but to avoid disrupting his and his family's life we have allowed no outside groups to meet him."

Crucial role

The Panchen Lama decides who will become Tibet's next Dalai Lama after the death of the incumbent, who is now in his late sixties.

The Beijing-designated Panchen Lama is always surrounded by bodyguards when he goes out in public.

Pilgrims get close to touch a huge silk portrait of the Sakyamuni Buddha on a hillside above the Drepung Monastery in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet
The birth of Buddha was celebrated in Lhasa on Sunday
Among his most recent public appearances was his opening of the Communist Party Congress in Beijing in 2002.

While in Lhasa, he met with Communist party officials and "200 representatives from all walks of life," the state Xinhua News Agency reported.

Taking control of Tibet in 1950, China has imposed communist rule in the mountain kingdom of 2.6 million inhabitants.

The Dalai Lama fled Tibet after a failed uprising against Chinese rule in 1959 and now lives in exile in India.




SEE ALSO:
China says vanished Panchen Lama 'happy'
12 Nov 02  |  Asia-Pacific
'Chinese' Panchen Lama appears on TV
10 Feb 02  |  Asia-Pacific
Delight over KFC Tibet decision
26 Jun 04  |  South Asia


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