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Beijing-picked Panchen Lama Praises Communist Rule - 2004-09-27

The boy designated by Chinese authorities as Tibetan Buddhism's second-holiest monk, known as the Panchen Lama, has used his first published interview to praise communist rule in Tibet. The official Xinhua news agency reports that the boy says Tibetan Buddhist temples and religious activities are well-protected, and that the region has made many achievements under the good leadership of the Chinese Communist Party.

The 15-year old Gyaltsen Norbu was interviewed during a visit to Xigaze, Tibet's second-largest city and the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama.

Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, had selected another boy - Gedhun Choekyi Nyima - as the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama in 1995. Chinese authorities ignored the choice and the boy disappeared shortly after his selection was announced.

Chinese officials insist the displaced candidate is an ordinary school boy and is doing well in his studies.

Some information for this report provided by AP and AFP.