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Singapore Promotes Chinese Nominee as Panchen Lama

Mr.George Yeo, Singapore’s Foreign Minister, has hurt the feelings of large sections  of the Tibetal Buddhists in China and abroad, including India, by providing legitimacy to the action of the Chinese Communist Party in arresting in 1995 His Holiness the Panchen Lama chosen by the Tibetans in accordance with their tradition and imposing on them  an individual chosen by the Chinese Communist Party as the 11th Panchen Lama.

2. The nominee of the Chinese Communist Party has not been accepted by the Tibetan people and His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The Chinese have till now refused to release the Panchen Lama chosen by the Tibetans and allow him to perform his functions as a religious leader. Confronted with a situation where  the Tibetans and other Buddhists of the world are not prepared to recognise  the legitimacy of the Panchen Lama imposed on the Tibetan people by the Chinese Communist Party,the Chinese Government has mounted an exercise since the beginning of this year to build up the image of their nominee in the Tibetan-inhabited areas of China. In this connection reference is invited to my article of June 17,2010, titled “Bringing up their Panchen Lama” at

3.The Chinese have further extended this exercise now in order to build up his image abroad. As part of this exercise, the Chinese authorities arranged a meeting between their nominee and Mr.George Yeo at Beijing  on September 14, 2010, during a visit by the Singapore Foreign Minister to China. It has been reported that the Chinese Party-nominated Panchen Lama accepted an invitation extended by Mr.George Yeo to visit Singapore. Even though this has been projected as part of an exercise to promote contacts between Buddhists in the two countries, its political significance in providing legitimacy to the actions of the Chinese Communist Party in interfering in the religious affairs of the Tibetan Buddhists and tampering with their traditions cannot be missed.

4. The Chinese have made it clear on many occasions  that when His Holiness the Dalai Lama dies, his successor will be chosen by the Communist Party and Government as they did in the case of their nominee as the Panchen Lama. The action of the Singapore Foreign Minister in providing legitimacy  to Chinese actions in denying freedom of religion to the Tibetan people could be a prelude  to his providing legitimacy to the Chinese Party imposing on the Tibetans a Dalai Lama in Chinese Communist Party colours.

5. It is understood that Mr.George Yeo, who paid a controversial visit to Tibet in August last year, has been taking close interest in the project of the Government of India for the revival of the Nalanda University. His action in providing legitimacy to actions of the Chinese Party, which were an affront to the Tibetans and other Buddhists, has to be strongly deplored. In view of this, there is a need to re-examine his continued association with the Nalanda revival project. (16-9-10)

( The writer Mr B Raman, is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi, and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Associate of the Chennai Centre For China Studies. E-mail: )

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