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Beijing-chosen Panchen Lama makes first public appearance outside mainland

The 22-year-old man designated by China as Tibet’s second most important spiritual leader has made his first appearance outside the Chinese mainland at a Buddhist conference in Hong Kong

Panchen lamaEnlarge
The Panchen Lama, the second highest Tibetan Buddhist leader, walks on stage during a ceremony worshipping the Buddha's parietal bone relic in Hong Kong on April 25, 2012. (AARON TAM/AFP/Getty Images)

The man designated by China as Tibet’s second most important spiritual leader has made his first appearance outside the Chinese mainland, discussing religious philosophy and criticizing “materialistic technology” at a Buddhist conference in Hong Kong.

Twenty-two-year-old Gyaltsen Norbu was chosen by the Chinese government as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama when he was six, but followers of the Dalai Lama – the most senior Buddhist leader, who currently lives in exile – do not recognize him, the BBC reports.

The boy chosen by the Dalai Lama to be the Panchen Lama was rejected by Beijing, and has since disappeared.

The Panchen Lama is almost never seen in public, but in an eight-minute speech Thursday to more than 1,000 monks, nuns and scholars from 50 countries, he espoused Buddhist theory as “sweet dew that ends human suffering” and offers “a way to promote world peace.”

He also attacked “materialistic technology” in his address, saying that greed had “unbalanced the ecosystems, contaminated the environments, caused natural disasters, spread epidemics, induced wars and hence endangered all sentient beings now and in future.”

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Thubten Samphel, a former spokesman for the Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharmsala, India, told the Associated Press followers of the Dalai Lama were “very concerned about the real Panchen Lama.”

“As far as the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama is concerned, we feel that China is trying to find a platform for him to be accepted by the larger community,” he said.

According to the Agence France Presse, a total of 34 Tibetans are reported to have set themselves on fire since the beginning of 2011 in protest at what they say amounts to Chinese repression.

Many of the protesters have reportedly died from severe burns. 

GlobalPost's series: Buddhists in arms

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/120426/beijing-chosen-panchen-lama-makes-first-public-appearance-