A young boy, who disappeared after being appointed as second highest Tibetan Buddhist religious leader by the Dalai Lama, is living with his family somewhere in Tibet, a top Chinese official said on Sunday.
"As far as I know, his family and he are now living a very good life in Tibet... he and his family are reluctant to be disturbed, they want to live an ordinary life and they want to live an ordinary life," Padma Choling, chairman of the Tibet autonomous regional government, told media at the National People's Congress meet in Beijing.
Gendun Choekyi Nyima, now 20, was named as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama in 1995 by the Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhism's highest figure whom Beijing views as a separatist. The boy and his family, who are from a remote part of Tibet, have not been heard from since.
Chinese officials, however, selected another boy, Gyaltsen Norbu (also 20), as the Panchen, to counter the Dalai Lama's nominee.
The so-called "Panchen Lama" picked by the Dalai Lama was illegitimate and invalid, Choling said, adding that the "soul boy" picked by the Dalai Lama as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama was a victim.
The Panchen Lama appointed by Dalai Lama and his family are now living a good life as ordinary citizens in Tibet, and some of his elder sisters and brothers are in universities or have already started working, Choling said.
"The reincarnation cannot be decided by certain individuals, it must follow strict religious rituals," Choling said and asserted that the 11th Panchen Lama, appointed by the Chinese government, was deeply loved and supported by people of all ethnic groups in Tibet.
The Panchen Lama goes back to Tibet every year and holds religious activities at Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery in Xigaze, the seat of successive Panchen Lamas, he said.
Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu was in the limelight few days ago as he as appointed to the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the second legislature.
Cholang said Tibet has nothing to hide and will make visits to the region more easy in the future.
"As always, we welcome tourists, journalists and government officials to visit Tibet and take a look there to better understand the region's current situation," he said, quoting a Chinese saying that "seeing is believing."
Commenting on Tibet's regulations on foreigners' access to the region, he said it is "a very special place" due to its "high altitude, its inconvenient traffic" in addition to other limited conditions.
The selection of the 11th Panchen Lama Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, was approved by the Chinese government through lot-drawing in 1995 in strict accordance with religious rituals and historical conventions in Tibetan Buddhism," Choling was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency.The 14th Dalai Lama fled Tibet to India soon after the failed 1959 uprising against Chinese rule, and the effective collapse of the Tibetan resistance movement led by hi