Tuesday, July 8, 2014

What was the Panchen Gyalsten Norbu doing in Lhasa?

Tibet is a popular destination these days, not only for tourism.
After General Wang Jianping, the People's Armed Police Force Commander last week, the Panchen Lama selected by Beijing visited Lhasa ...for 3 days.
Why such a short visit?
Difficult to say.
Officially, the Panchen Lama Gyaltsent Norbu had come for 'inspection' and for his 'religious duty'.
He went to pay homage to Jowo, the statue of the Buddha in the Jokhang Cathedral in Lhasa. Is it considered as his 'religious duty'?
Gyaltsen Norby also went to Sera monastery where he met a few selected monks.
Xinhua later reported: "The 11th Panchen Lama concluded his religious duties in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region on Friday."
He had reached on Tuesday.
The news agency further elaborated: "The 11th Panchen Lama Panchen Gyltsen Norbu, one of the two most revered living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism, visited monasteries in Jokhang and Sera, where he performed rituals, including sutra interpretations and blessings."
The name of the second 'most revered one' is of course not mentioned as he is presently in Ladakh performing the Kalachackra.
As a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, Gyaltsen Norbu met CPPCC regional members in Lhasa.
He told them: "As CPPCC members, we should work together on national development and people's interests in Tibet."
Xinhua says: "These visits have become an annual event in recent years."
The question is, why should the visit last 3 days only?
It is  rather strange.
Last year, Gyaltsen Norbu reached Lhasa on August 27 and left mid-October after visiting Tashilhunpo monastery and Sakya. Read my posting on "The Strange Case of the Panchen Lama".
The TAR website (in Chinese) gave more details, particularly about Gyaltsen Norbu's meeting with the Party's big shots in Lhasa on July 2.
The website says: "The Party Secretary of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Chen Quanguo met with the 11th Panchen Erdeni Gyaltsen Norbu in the afternoon at Lhasa. The Vice minister of the United Front Work Department of CPC Central Committee (UFWD) Sithar, leaders of the Autonomous Region like Padma Choling, Wu Yingjie, Gongpo Tashi, Qizha La, Tenzin Langjie, Thupden Kedup [Rinpoche?], Phagpalha Geleg Namgyal Rinpoche, etc. were present during the meeting."
It is interesting that the Lama was accompanied by Sithar, a Tibetan working for the United Front Work Department in Beijing (and earlier posted in Germany).
Chen Quanguo expressed a warm welcome to Gyaltsen Norbu "for returning to Tibet for investigation (research?) and inspection and for carrying out Buddhist activities".
The Party Chief added: "We are truly happy for your growth and progress and give you our heartfelt wishes.”
Chen Quanguo then gave a long lecture to Gyaltsen Norbu, giving a brief on the condition of Tibet’s economic society: "From this year onwards, the Party Committee of the Autonomous Region and the Governmental will lead masses and cadres from every ethnic group, further implement the spirit of the Second and the Third Plenum of the 18th Party Congress; implement the spirit of the series of the important talks delivered by Xi Jinping - especially the important strategic thought of 'To govern a country, we must govern the borders, for governing the borders, we must first make Tibet stable' and the instruction of working hard for Tibet’s sustained stability, long term stability and comprehensive stability."
Obviously, the Chinese leaders are nervous about the situation on the border.
That is the reason Deng Xiaoping is still in Rutok.
What was the real reason of Gyalsten Norbu's visit to Lhasa?
On one side the 'border', the Dalai Lama is revered by the 'masses' (1,50,00 people are attending the Kalachakra) while on a Tibet side, a few apparatchiks meets one Lama that they have selected themselves. There is here a problem for powerful China.
Incidently, Xinhua reported that the 14th Dalai Lama "is now holding the 33rd Kalachakra, or time-wheel, assembly, in Indian Kashmir. The Dalai Lama has recently held the assembly on a yearly basis."
One so-called Tibet expert, Li Decheng, head of the religious studies at the China Tibetology Research Center, explained that "the ceremony incited hatred, terror and extremist action, seriously tarnishing the Kalachakra's nature of solemnity and purity, and affecting the healthy development of Tibetan Buddhism."
To come back to Chen and Gyalsten Norbu, the Party Chief asked the Lama to "implement CPPCC Chairman Yu Zhengsheng’s 'Rule Tibet as per law, build Tibet for the long term, win the hearts of the people and ram the foundation', adhere to 'One Core', 'Two Major Tasks', 'Four Insurances' that have been clearly stated by the Party, innovate, do solid practical work, stick to scientific development, social stability, unity of nationalities, improvement of the nationalities, harmony in religion, good ecology and strengthen the building of the party."
The usual Communist jargon.
Chen Quanguo added that Xi Jinping and the Central Committes are "highly concerned about the growth and progress of the 11th Panchen Lama. The Tibetan compatriots and the Buddhist circles have high hopes about him. We sincerely wish that the 11th Panchen Lama would grow and make even more progress and work hard to become the model of the Great Tibetan Buddhist masters."
Chen then gave 6 advices to Gyaltsen Norbu to become a role model for the masses.
Gyaltsen Norbu gave the expected answer: “In the recent years the Party Standing Committee of the Tibet Autonomous Region and the Government have sincerely implemented the religious policies of the government, strengthened and innovated the management of the monasteries, has shown concern for the monks and implemented a series of policies that were beneficial for the monastery and the monks. In this process, Tibetan Buddhism has found its roots once again."
Gyaltsen Norbu said that the development of a religion and the fate of a nation are deeply interrelated: “As a person from the religious background, I must have unwavering patriotism, I must unwaveringly walk on the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics and persistently harbour mercy in my mind to deliver the masses from difficulty. The world of Tibetan Buddhism must treasure and protect the good situation prevailing now, must promote and safeguard harmony and the stability of the society in a better manner, and must serve the China’s Dream of rejuvenation of the Chinese nation in a better manner."
Well, this does not explain, how his religious duties and his inspection tour could be completed in a record 3 days (compared to 6 weeks last year).
Sometimes, I think that the Communist leadership does not really trust 'their' Panchen Lama. Let us not forget that the late 10th Panchen Lama was also 'their' choice. He turned out to be one of the greatest Tibetan patriot.
And why to come to Lhasa, just to receive a lecture from Chen Quanguo?
Why did Sithar need to accompany him?
All these questions have no answer today, except perhaps that the leadership is nervous.
By the way, as Gyaltsen Norbu was leaving, guess who arrived in the Tibetan capital?
Zhang Yijiong, the head of the Office of the Central Work Coordination Leading Small Group on Tibet, and Deputy Secreraty of the UFWD.
He is the one who will eventually lead the Chinese delegation, if talks with Dharamsala are one day resumed.
Zhang is also the direct boss of Sithar.
The climate in Lhasa must be pleasant these days.
In Jokhang
Meeting the Party bosses
With Phagphala
In Sera Monastery
In Jokhang

No comments: