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Thursday, 9 March, 2000, 15:37 GMT
China woos exiled Karmapa Lama

The Karmapa Lama fled to India last December
The Chinese-backed regional government in Tibet has held the door open to a possible return of the Karmapa Lama, a senior religious figure who fled to India in late December.

Speaking to journalists at the annual session of China's legislature, Tibet's Deputy Communist Party Secretary Raidi also warned the exiled Tibetan leader, the Dalai Lama, not to make use of the Karmapa for political ends.


His departure is not a betrayal of his motherland, people, monastery or government leaders

Deputy Communist Party Secretary Raidi
"The Dalai clique and some foreign forces have all along attempted to control and use the Karmapa to serve their own ulterior motives," Mr Raidi said.

It was the first time the head of Tibet's regional government had spoken in public about the disappearance of the Karmapa Lama.

The teenager had been groomed by China for eight years and was an important plank of Beijing's strategy in Tibet, especially as he was the only senior lama inside Tibet also recognised by the Dalai Lama.


A warning to the Dalai Lama
Asked whether he would welcome the Karmapa's return, Mr Raidi said the Karmapa had left simply to collect musical instruments and other sacred artefacts belonging to his sect.

Referring to a letter alleged by China to have been written by the Karmapa before he left, Mr Raidi said: "In this letter he said his departure is not a betrayal of his motherland, people, monastery or government leaders."

Denial

Analysts said Mr Raidi's comments appear to suggest that China was prepared to see the Karmapa return but was wary of appearing too enthusiastic in order to avoid a loss of face if the lama decided to remain in India.


His [the Karmapa's] parents are now living a good life in Tibet

Deputy Communist Party Secretary Raidi
He denied reports that monks loyal to the Karmapa or his family members had been punished after his departure.

"This is totally groundless and out of ulterior motives. It is made out of thin air," he said.

"His [the Karmapa's] parents are now living a good life in Tibet."

He also denied reports that any harm had come to another controversial figure, the boy chosen by the Dalai Lama against Beijing's wishes as the reincarnation of Tibet's second highest religious figure, the Panchen Lama.

He said the boy - who had not been seen in public for years - was attending school and doing well, though he made it clear he was not in his home village.

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See also:

16 Jan 00 |  South Asia
Karmapa Lama 'to stay in India'
14 Jan 00 |  South Asia
India and China discuss Karmapa Lama
11 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
China warns India over Lama
10 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Diplomatic jitters over Lama's visit
08 Jan 00 |  Asia-Pacific
Who is the Karmapa Lama?
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