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Friday, June 25, 1999 Published at 20:40 GMT 21:40 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Panchen urges respect for Chinese leadership

The Panchen Lama has been given Beijing's official support

A week after returning to Tibet, the boy named by Beijing as the Panchen Lama has urged Tibetan Buddhists to obey the instructions of President Jiang Zemin and love the socialist Chinese motherland.

The official state news agency, Xinhua, said the nine-year-old boy - the second most senior figure in Tibetan Buddhism - made the announcement whilst conducting a ceremony to baptise lamas and disciples.

The agency said the ceremony, held at the Panchen Lama's main residence near the Tibetan town of Shigatse, was the first of its kind in which he has been involved.

'Love the motherland'

[ image: The ceremony took place at Tibet's Shigatse monastery]
The ceremony took place at Tibet's Shigatse monastery
"All the lamas of Zhaxi Lhunbo (Tashilhunpo) Lamasery, including myself, and the believers should love the Communist Party of China, love our socialist motherland and love the religion we believe in," the Panchen Lama said.

State-controlled television showed pictures of the Panchen Lama, Gyaincain Norbu, conducting the ceremonies.

He was returned to Tibet from Beijing last week in what observers saw as a move to consolidate his position.

Religious interference

The visit is the first since his designation in 1995 as the 11th Panchen Lama. The 10th Panchen died at the Shigatse monastery in 1989.

[ image: The boy leader urged Tibetans to obey the Chinese president]
The boy leader urged Tibetans to obey the Chinese president
The government-in-exile of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has attacked the move as an attempt by China to interfere in the religious affairs of Tibet.

Another boy named by the Dalai Lama as the re-incarnation of the Panchen Lama has not been seen since 1995.

The London-based Tibet Information Network said his return was a sign of the confidence amongst the Chinese authorities that a three-year-old "patriotic education campaign" had silenced opposition Beijing's chosen candidate.

Secret photos

[ image: Pictures of the boy are displayed alongside those of the 10th Panchen Lama]
Pictures of the boy are displayed alongside those of the 10th Panchen Lama
Under government regulations, Tibetan Buddhist temples are obliged to display pictures of the Beijing-approved successor, but many Tibetans are said to secretly keep photos of the Dalai Lama's choice.

One of the Panchen Lama's most important roles is to decide upon the next reincarnation of the Dalai Lama.

According to state media, the Panchen Lama has recently been based in Beijing where he has been taught by Tibetan lamas under government care.

The Chinese Government has insisted that the identification of the 11th Panchen Lama was made according to Tibetan traditions and was welcomed by the Tibetan people.

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Internet Links

The Tibet Society (UK) information on the Panchen Lama Dispute

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