- Pompeo said that people of all religions in China should be allowed to adopt their beliefs without interference from Beijing.
- Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, was kidnapped by Beijing on May 17, 1995, at six years old.
- Like the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama is also considered an incarnation of a form of the Buddha.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that China should make public the information about the Panchen Lama, the Tibetan religious leader chosen by the Dalai Lama. Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the 11th Panchen Lama, was kidnapped by Chinese authorities 25 years ago when he was just six years old. Now he is 31 years old.
Pompeo said that people of all religions in China should be allowed to adopt their beliefs without interference from Beijing. He expressed concern over how China is trying to separate the religious, linguistic, and cultural identity of Tibetans. Troubled by the Coronavirus infection, the United States has now begun to surround China on a new issue.
Such is the case of Tibet. America has already opened a front regarding the origin of Coronavirus and the role of China in it. President Donald Trump has once again targeted the World Health Organization (WHO) and China. The United States has taken several initiatives to hold China responsible for the Coronavirus infection, and to pay its economic price. Now Secretary of State Pompeo has tried to surround China by raising the issue of Panchen Lama.
Panchen Lama and the Dispute
When China took the second most important person of Tibetan Buddhism in its possession at the age of six in 1995, he was called the world’s youngest political prisoner. Even after 25 years, he has not been seen. Tibetan Buddhists believe in rebirth (avatar). When Choekyi Gyaltsen, the 10th Panchen Lama, died under suspicious circumstances in 1989, his avatar was soon revealed. Some believe he was poisoned by the Chinese government.
On May 14, 1995, the Dalai Lama, the head of Tibetan Buddhism, announced the recognition of the 11th Panchen Lama. Six-year-old Gezhun Choekyi Nyima was declared an avatar of the Panchen Lama. He was the son of a doctor and nurse from the city of Nakshu, in Tibet.
The Chinese administration hoped that the Panchen Lama would be identified without the intervention of the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama left Tibet in 1959, came to India, and formed a Tibetan government-in-exile. The Chinese government excluded Nyima and his family from the scene, and asked Buddhist religious leaders of the Chinese government to identify the Panchen Lama that followed at the behest of China.
On 17 May 1995, China took him under his control and since then he was kept away from the eyes of the people. Once an officer told the South China Morning Post that he was living in Ganzhou, North China. There is also a theory that they have been kept either in or around Beijing.
In October 2000, the then British Foreign Minister Robin Cook told the Select Committee of Parliament, “every time we raised the question of Gezhun Choiqi Nyima . . . we were assured by the Chinese government that he were in good health and well looked after.”
Why is the Panchen Lama so Important?
Like the Dalai Lama, the Panchen Lama is also considered an incarnation of a form of the Buddha. The Panchen Lama is considered to be the incarnation of Amitabha, the divine form of the infinitely illumined Buddha. While the Dalai Lama is considered an avatar of his Avalokiteshwara form. Avalokiteshwara is considered to be the Buddha of compassion.
Traditionally, one form is a guru of another form, and plays an important role in identifying the avatar of another. There is a difference of more than fifty years between the age of the Panchen Lama and the age of the Dalai Lama when the discovery of the incarnation of the Dalai Lama will be done. Then only, the Panchen Lama will do this work.
When the Chinese government tried to gain control of the Panchen Lama’s selection process in 1995, it may have been preparing for it in advance. In 2011, the Dalai Lama wrote in a message about his retirement and reincarnation, “he says he is waiting for my death and then recognizes the person of his will as the 15th Dalai Lama Will give.”