Panchen Lama says Buddhism in Tibet will be sinicised, adopt socialist traits
Tibetan Buddhism will adapt to a socialist society with Chinese characteristics and move towards sinicisation, Gyaltsen Norbu, the Beijing-appointed second-highest spiritual leader of the faith, also known as Panchen Lama, has said.
The Communist party-ruled and atheist China had selected Gyaltsen Norbu as the 11th Panchen Lama in 1995, days after detaining another six-year-old boy chosen by the India-based 14th Dalai Lama - who Beijing calls a separatist - as the 11th Panchen Lama.
The detained boy has not been seen publicly since and the Beijing-appointed Gyaltsen Norbu, not recognised by many Tibetans, is promoted by the Chinese government in choreographed appearances, which seems part of a planned attempt to boost his public image.
The 31-year-old, a member of China’s top political advisory body, Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), gave a rare interview in Mandarin to official news agency, Xinhua, earlier this week after speaking during its annual meeting in Beijing.
He told Xinhua that his understanding of the current state of affairs is that Tibetan Buddhism will adapt to the conditions of a socialist society with Chinese characteristics and move towards sinicisation.
As it develops, it will mark a prosperous period for Tibetan Buddhism, he said, adding that in the future, Tibetan Buddhism must also move forward in the direction of safeguarding the “unification of the motherland, promoting national unity, and promoting social stability in order to have a bright future”.
Also referred to by the name of Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu in Chinese official media, he added that the prosperity of China “the motherland”, national unity, people’s happiness and world peace were not only his personal dream, but also a pursuit of the Buddhist community in the country.
He added that the position of religious committee members should be in line with the “motherland and the people”, and the policies and guidelines of the party.
As someone promoting sinicisation of Tibetan Buddhism in the new era, the CPPCC member said Tibet and Tibetan Buddhism were in the “best period of historical development”.
A 2020 report by the rights group, Human Rights Watch, on the missing boy appointed by the Dalai Lama, said the official Panchen Lama himself is not allowed to move around independently.
“Ever since, that second candidate has been paraded annually in Tibet, accompanied by police, officials and a massive publicity operation involving hundreds of coerced worshippers. In between these visits, he has effectively been held under house arrest in Beijing and never been allowed to travel freely or to speak openly with foreigners,” the HRW report said.
You, a member of the secretariat of the CPC central committee and head of the United Front Work Department of the CPC central committee, “expressed hope that the Panchen Lama would actively safeguard national and ethnic unity”.
According to an official statement, You extended congratulations to the Panchen Lama on the progress he has made in various aspects and encouraged him to further his research on Buddhism.
According to the CPC’s mouthpiece, People’s Daily, Gyaltsen Norbu was confirmed and approved by the state council, or the Chinese central government, as the reincarnate of the Tenth Panchen Lama on November 29, 1995 “after the lot drawing from a sacred, golden urn in strict compliance with religious rituals and conventions”.