China says boy picked by Dalai Lama now a college graduate

China says boy picked by Dalai Lama now a college graduate

BEIJING — China said Tuesday that a boy who disappeared 25 years ago after being picked by the Dalai Lama as Tibetan Buddhism’s second-highest figure is now a college graduate with a stable job.

Very little information has been given about Gedhun Choekyi Nyima or his family since he went missing at age 6 shortly after being named the 11th Panchen Lama.

China, which claims that Tibet is part of its territory, named another boy to the position, Gyaltsen Norbu, who is rarely seen and is believed to spend most of his time in Beijing. He is generally viewed as a political figure under Beijing’s control and shares none of the Dalai Lama’s global fame.

Foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Gedhun Choekyi Nyima “received free compulsory education when he was a child, passed the college entrance examination and now has a job.” Zhao said neither the now-31-year-old man or his family wishes to be disturbed in their “current normal lives.” No other details were given.

The tussle between Beijing and the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile in 1959, concerns who will determine the future of Tibetan Buddhism, which still commands heavy sway over the people of the Himalayan region that China says has been its territory for centuries but which many Tibetans believe was largely independent.

Tibet’s self-declared government-in-exile in India marked the 25th anniversary of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima’s disappearance by calling on Beijing on Sunday to account for his whereabouts.

“China’s abduction of the Panchen Lama and forcible denial of his religious identity and right to practice in his monastery is not only a violation of religious freedom but also a gross violation of human rights,” the Tibetan parliament in northern India, known as the Kashag, said in a statement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also issued a statement on Monday calling on China to “immediately make public the Panchen Lama’s whereabouts and to uphold its own constitution and international commitments to promote religious freedom for all persons.”

The Dalai Lama named the original Panchen Lama with the help of Tibetan lamas trained in reading portents and signs. China claims the reincarnate can only be chosen by pulling lots from a golden urn, a method it used to pick its own candidate under the control of the officially atheistic ruling Communist Party.

Traditionally, the Panchen Lama has served as teacher and aide to the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism’s highest leader who is now 84 and is accused by Beijing of seeking independence for Tibet. The Dalai Lama denies that and says he advocates greater autonomy for the region.

The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Stettler Learning Centre nearing renovations completion

A grand opening for the new location is planned for this fall

Plans in place for a different kind of graduation this year at Wm E. Hay Stettler Secondary Campus

“They deserve to be celebrated for this milestone in their education.”

$2 raise for some health care workers in Alberta over a month late

Delay isn’t from Alberta Health, spokesperson confirms

Wind warning issued for central Alberta

City of Red Deer and Lacombe under wind warning

QUIZ: Test your knowledge of the world of summer sports

In a typical year, there are plenty of summer sporting events and tournaments held across Canada

SpaceX’s historic encore: Astronauts arrive at space station

SpaceX Dragon capsule pulled up to the station and docked automatically

Ottawa pledges millions to promote holiday travel in Canada during pandemic

Funding announced include $30 million originally earmarked for attracting foreign visitors

Sweats are in, slacks are out: Could ‘work-leisure’ become business as usual?

Many desk-dwellers are opting for sweatpants as work-from-home era has loosened up dress codes

Minimum wage goes up June 1 in B.C. as businesses face COVID-19 challenges

Increase is part of the government’s pledge to implement a $15 per hour minimum wage

In hard-hit Quebec, families struggle to mourn those lost to COVID-19

The province recorded more than 50,000 confirmed cases and over 4,300 deaths as of Friday

Most Read