Beijing: Achok Rinpoche, a senior Tibetan Buddhist monk who lived in exile in India for over five decades has returned to settle in Tibet, Chinese officials have claimed describing it as an indication of the Dalai Lama's declining influence.
Achok, head of the "Tibetan Hospital" and a library director for the Tibetan 'government-in-exile' in Dharamsala returned to China in May and settled down in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Southwest China's Sichuan Province after getting official approval, state-run Global Times reported.
The move indicates futureless end of the Dalai Lama group, it quoted officials as saying.
"It's a brave and praiseworthy move," Xiong Kunxin, an ethnic studies professor at the Minzu University of China, said.
He has ignored an invitation from the Dalai Lama to celebrate his 80th birthday in July, the report said.
Born in 1944, Achok fled to India at the age 15 when the Dalai Lama left for Dharamsala on self exile in 1959.
Analysts say that the publicity being given to the return of Achok may indicate that China looks to encourage return defections to weaken the Dalai Lama group.
Overseas Tibetan groups say reverence for the high priest of the Tibetan Buddhism? is very high and over 130 Tibetans committed self-immolations demanding the return of the Dalai Lama in recent years.
Recent statements by top Chinese leaders made it clear that leadership headed by President Xi Jinping continued to pursue a hardline stance against any settlement with the Dalai Lama and his followers.