Panchen named to House body

BEIJING: China’s controversial choice as the second highest Tibetan Buddhist leader has been named to a parliamentary

advisory body, amid an

apparent push by Beijing to promote his legitimacy.

The naming of 20-year-old Gyaincain Norbu to the

body followed news last month that he had been elected vice president of the nation’s Buddhist Association.

Gyaincain Norbu was enthroned by China as the 11th Panchen Lama in a 1995 ceremony overseen by the Communist Party, which had rejected a boy selected by the Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader.

He has now been named

as a delegate to the

Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), state-run Xinhua news agency

said today.

The CPPCC is a body that in theory advises the main rubber-stamp National People’s Congress (NPC). The CPPCC opens its annual session on Wednesday, while the NPC convenes on Friday.

The Dalai Lama’s choice for Panchen Lama, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, has disappeared from public view and is believed to have been under a form of house arrest.

The Panchen Lama is second only to the Dalai Lama in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy.

China has been steadily raising the profile of its Panchen Lama choice as he has grown up. In his recent appearances he has routinely praised the Communist Party leadership and China’s rule of Tibet.

In January, Chinese Communist party officials met envoys of the Dalai Lama for the first time in 14 months to discuss the region’s future, but the talks ended with China saying the two sides were sharply divided.

China accuses the Dalai Lama, who fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising, of seeking independence for his Himalayan homeland.

But the Buddhist monk rejects that claim, saying he merely seeks meaningful autonomy for Tibet under Chinese rule.