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UPDATED: March 23, 2009
Panchen Lama Hails Progress in Tibet
The 11th Panchen Lama Gyaincain Norbu has called on people in Tibet to support the leadership of the Communist Party of China

The 11th Panchen Lama Gyaincain Norbu has called on people in Tibet to support the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC), to which he credited the highland region's prosperity and development today.

In a signed article to be carried by Monday's People's Daily, the Panchen Lama, one of Tibet's most senior living Buddhas, said the hard-earned happy life of today's Tibetans should be greatly cherished.

People in Tibet should support the CPC leadership, contribute to the nation's unity and unification, as well as to the happiness and future of Tibetan people, he said.

Only the CPC could enable serfs in Old Tibet to enjoy dignity as human beings and freedom, he said in the article.

"As facts showed Tibet could only achieve today's prosperity and development as well as a more beautiful future under the CPC leadership," he said.

He cited a line of Buddhist scripture about the significance of good leaders and patriotic people to a country.

"It means to me that a country could only achieve peace and stability and the people enjoy happy life with wise leaders," he said.

"All monks and nuns should uphold patriotism, abide by the law and commandments, and carefully study the essence of Buddhism," he said.

The Panchen Lama promised that he would inherit his predecessor's tradition to be a patriot and uphold the "four great loves" as set fourth by the 10th Panchen Lama: the love of the CPC, of socialism, of his own ethnic group and of religious belief.

He would continue to guide Tibetan Buddhists to adapt to the country's socialist society and strive to contribute to the nation's unification, ethnic unity and people's happy life.

In 1951, the Central People's Government and the Local Government of Tibet signed an agreement on the Measures for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet, or the 17-Article Agreement.

It signified the peaceful liberation of Tibet and enabled the region to shake off the trammels imposed by imperialist aggressors, he said.

In 1959, the central government and Tibetan people halted an armed rebellion, and the Chinese government launched democratic reform to end the feudal serfdom system and liberate serfs, he said.

Tibetan legislators endorsed a motion in January this year designating March 28 as Serfs Emancipation Day, to commemorate the emancipation of millions of serfs and slaves in Tibet 50 years ago.

"As a descendant of serfs in Old Tibet and the successor to the Panchen Lama Erdeni, I'm very excited as the whole country is celebrating the first Serfs Emancipation Day," the 19-year-old Panchen Lama said.

The central government has established a series of preferential policies to promote economic and social development in Tibet since it adopted the reform and opening up policy three decades ago, he said.

Since then, the central government has been investing in projects, giving subsidies and calling on people across the country to offer aid to Tibet, the Panchen Lama said. The measures greatly facilitated economic and social development in the region.

Huge progress was also made in the past five decades in enabling the Tibet Autonomous Region to practice self-government in its region, the protection of traditional Tibetan culture and heritage, and the promotion of freedom in religious belief, he said.

Gyaincain Norbu, born on February 13, 1990 in Lhari county of Nagqu prefecture in northern Tibet, was approved by the central government in November 1995 as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama, who died in 1989, after a lot drawing ceremony among three candidates in the Jokhang Temple in Lhasa. He was enthroned as the 11th Panchen Lama on December 8, 1995.

Drawing lots from a gold urn to decide on the final choice of the reincarnation of a high lama is a tradition in Tibetan Buddhism. Gaining the approval from the central government on the choice is a practice that began in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

(Xinhua News Agency March 22, 2009)

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