A report published today in the Economist online describes a recent visitor's experience of outward calm in Tibet behind which lies an array of tactics for keeping the peace across the region. The writer speculates that as a result of this tension, Tibetan Buddhism could well end up with two Dalai Lamas—one in Tibet, but another living outside China and able to speak out.
"...This and several other Tashilhunpo shrines display three photographs of Panchen Lamas side by side, with the tenth in the middle, his predecessor to the left and the 11th to the right. The young man who now holds the title embodies China’s attempt at control over Tibetan Buddhism. He was appointed in 1995 at the age of six in a ceremony attended by top Chinese officials. China refused to accept the boy recognised by the Dalai Lama as the new incarnation. This alternative, non-state-sanctioned Panchen Lama has not been seen in public since and is believed to be under close watch somewhere in China. His photograph is displayed in some monasteries far from Lhasa, but certainly not at Tashilhunpo. Bianba Tsering, my guide, said all Tibetans accept the official Panchen Lama as the rightful heir.
China’s success, so far at any rate, in keeping Xigatse relatively calm will make it all the more inclined to try the same tactic when the Dalai Lama dies. Tibetan Buddhism could well end up with two Dalai Lamas—one in Tibet, but another living outside China and able to speak out. For the Communist Party it will be a dangerous game."
Read the rest of the article here. Jan 28th 2010 | From The Economist online