Beijing: China, which brought its handpicked 11th Panchen Lama into political limelight by making him the member of a top advisory body, has not picked him for the post of group`s deputy chairman contrary to speculation.
Gyaincain Norbu (20), picked by China to counter the Dalai Lama`s nominee Gendun Choekyi Nyima (20) for slot of second most important Tibetan monk, stole the limelight at the inaugural of the Chinese Peoples Political Consultative Conference comprising of over 2200 top professionals from various fields selected by the ruling Chinese Communist party.
Gendun Choekyi Nyima, was named as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama in 1995 by the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism`s highest figure whom Beijing views as a separatist. The boy and his family, who are from a remote part of Tibet, have not been heard from since.
"China`s pick as the 11th Panchen Lama is at least a year away from receiving the honorific title of CPPCC deputy chairman, with the advisory group set to select another candidate for the top job," The Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post said today.
"But he still has the central government`s blessing and support as China`s face of Tibetan Buddhism. His portrait is rarely hung in Tibetan homes, however, unlike the show of respect paid to his predecessor and the 14th Dalai Lama," it said.
The Panchen Lama who was said to have been carefully groomed by Beijing to project him as the living Buddha to rival Dalai Lama was speculated to become one of more than 20 vice chairmen of CPPCC, a post that bestows state leadership rank.
He was expected to replace a fellow Tibetan late Ngapoi Ngawang Jigme. But as the CPPCC ended its session yesterday, former Macau chief executive Edmund Ho Hau-wah is the only candidate on the list. It means the Panchen Lama could only make it next year. It has been tradition to enrol religious figureheads in the CPPCC as part of Beijing`s strategy to tighten its control on the influence of religions.
Gyaincain Norbu`s predecessor, the 10th Panchen Lama, was a CPPCC delegate and made a vice-chairman in 1954, at the age of 16, the Post said.
Elliot Sperling, an expert on Tibet issues from Indiana University`s Central Eurasia Studies Centre, said the delay in the Panchen Lama`s elevation was designed to avoid making his rise seem too precipitous.
"It`s somewhat funny that with regard to the Dalai Lama, China insists he should not be mixing religion and politics, yet China`s Panchen Lama is appointed to a political post with no questions," Sperling said.
Thubten Samphel, a spokesman for the Tibetan government in exile, said the appointment of Gyaincain Norbu as a CPPCC delegate would not be of any significance to the Tibetan people.