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China Speaks of Boy Chosen by Dalai Lama Who Then Vanished

Beijing claims Gedhun Choekyi Nyima wants to be left alone
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 20, 2020 2:38 PM CDT

(Newser) – China says 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. The Dalai Lama named him with the help of Tibetan lamas trained in reading portents and signs. China, which claims that Tibet is part of its territory, says the reincarnate can only be chosen by pulling lots from a golden urn, a method it used to pick its own candidate: Gyaltsen Norbu, who is rarely seen and is believed to spend most of his time in Beijing. The tussle between Beijing and the exiled Dalai Lama concerns who will determine the future of Tibetan Buddhism.

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. Tibet’s self-declared government-in-exile in India marked the 25th anniversary of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima's disappearance Sunday by calling on Beijing 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 said. Traditionally, the Panchen Lama has served as teacher and aide to the Dalai Lama.

(Read more Tibet stories.)

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