Gyainchin Norbu is either the 11th reincarnation of the Panchen Lama of Tibetan Buddhism or ‘some guy’, depending on who you believe. Norbu is attending the 18th Party Congress as a non-voting delegate (whose responsibilities differ from voting delegates in no-way-whatsoever), where he got to watch Hu Jintao’s two-hour-long speech this morning.
Following the death of his predecessor in 1989, both the Tibetan government in exile (headed at the time by the Dalai Lama) and the Communist Party of China (CPC) started parallel search processes for the 11th Panchen Lama. When Tibetan exiles nominated Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, he was swiftly
arrested taken into protective custody by Chinese authorities to protect him from “Tibetan separatists”. 6-year-old Gyainchin Norbu’s name was pulled out of a Golden Urn in a ceremony that dates back to the Qianlong Emperor. However, Arjia Rinpoche, a high ranking lama who attended the ceremony has claimed that Chinese officials admitted to rigging the process in favour of Norbu. If true, this claim would completely deligitimise the process of arbitrarily pulling someone’s name out of a bowl and proclaiming them the 11th incarnation of the Amitābha, who may or may not have actually existed.