Beijing: Panchen Lama, the 20-year-old
Tibetan monk elevated to China`s top advisory body, stole the
show at its annual inaugural session here today as Beijing
sought to project him as an alternative to exiled Dalai Lama.
Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu known as Panchen Lama was
among 13 people who has been nominated as new members of the
National Committee of the Chinese People`s Political
Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
A festive atmosphere prevailed at the historic
Tiananmen square, the scene of the 1989 student protest that
shook the ruling Chinese Communist Party, as over 2,200
delegates to the Chinese People`s Political Consultative
Conference (CPPCC), arrived for the 10-day annual session.
Attention of the large foreign media covering the
otherwise lacklustre session turned onto Panchen Lama,
(original name Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu) who was chosen by
the Chinese government as the member of the CPPCC days before
the session kicked off.
One of the legislators from Tibet, who declined to be
identified in a brief conversation with the Indian media,
projected the young monk as the spiritual voice of Tibet.
"He (Panchen Lama) is a living Buddha and works for
the development of religious affairs, economic, social and
environmental issues of Tibet," he said.
The Panchen Lama is expected to take a central role in
the coming months to blunt the Tibet independence campaign of
Dalai Lama. China is expected to project him as the sole
spiritual representative of Tibetan Buddhism. The young Lama
sat silently as TV cameras gave him a fair projection.
Beijing in recent weeks has attacked the Dalai Lama,
saying that he ceased to be a Tibetan after his last year`s
assertion that he was born Tibetan but spiritually an Indian.
The young Lama has been given increasing political
role lately and he appeared along with the Communist Party
leaders in recent years praising Chinese rule in Tibet.
However, Chinese officials declined to respond to a
question whether the monk could be a rival to the exiled
Asked whether Panchen Lama?s elevation would improve
the image of China, he said: "Of course. He will play more
role in the development of Tibetan religious affairs and the
economic and social development".
There were strong references to Tibet in the inaugural
address of CPPCC Chairman Jia Qinglin.
"We will conscientiously implement the guiding
principles of the central leadership?s fifth forum on Tibet
work and strive to leapfrog development and lasting stability
in Tibet and Tibetan ethnic areas in Sichuan, Yunnan, Gansu
and Qinghai provinces," he said.
The delegates to the top body consisted of business
leaders, religious figures, academics and celebrities who
arrived at the Great Hall of the People, one of the truly
grand structure of Beijing, housing CPPCC and the National
People`s Congress (NPC).
The CPPCC session showcased the diversity of the
country as representatives of the ethnic minorities like Tibet
and Xinxiang, the Muslim majority province which turned
restive following clashes between local Uyghur community and
the mainland Han Chinese, arrived with their local costumes.