China has admitted for the first time that it is holding the missing Tibetan
child, Gendun Choekyi Nyima, regarded by most Tibetans as the 11th
reincarnation of the Panchen Lama. The UN has asked that a delegation be
allowed to visit the seven-year old boy, whom Beijing says is being held to
prevent him from being kidnapped by Tibetan nationalists.
The announcement coincided with TV footage of another chi!d, the
Beijing-approved Panchen Lama, accepting gifts from Party leaders in Shigatse,
Tibet's second city. It follows unusually strong press statements calling on
cadres to diminish Tibetan religious belief because it is full of
"deceitfulness, backwardness and poisoning".
"He has been put under the protection of the government at the request of his
parents," China's Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Wu Jianmin, told UN experts
who asked China on Tuesday 28 May to allow a UN representative to visit Gendun
Choekyi Nyima. Ambassador Wu did not say where the child is being held.
"The Chinese ambassador said the boy, who has not been seen in public for more
than a year, was in good condition and was living with his parents," the
official Chinese news agency reported in its account of the meeting in Geneva.
"The boy was at risk of being kidnapped by Tibetan separatists and his security
had been threatened," it said.
The admission comes just over one year after the child and his family
disappeared, and follows 12 months of denials by Beijing. Chinese officials
"have no idea of the whereabouts of the soul boy designated by the Dalai Lama,"
China's Foreign Ministry spokesman told journalists last November.
The disappearance of the child and his family has led to widespread
international activity, including requests from the UN and a resolution last
December at the European Parliament which halted implementation of a European
development project in Tibet.
Gendun Choekyi Nyima is believed to have been escorted to Beijing by Chinese
security forces from his home in northern Tibet within days of the Dalai Lama's
announcement on 14 May last year that he had recognised the child as the 11th
Panchen Lama, one of Tibet's most senior religious leaders. The announcement
led to a six month dispute with Beijing, who in December installed a different
child as the official Panchen Lama.