Reting Monastery, Lhasa. Image credit: Wikipedia.
Beijing’s pick for the seventh Reting Rinpoche, a key figure in the Tibetan buddhist hierarchy, has been appointed to the Tibet Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, despite being only 16.
Sonam Phuntsok was enthroned as the seventh Reting Rinpoche in 2000 after the death of his predecessor, a Tibetan enthroned in 1955. The Reting Rinpoche is the abbot of the Reting Monastery, in Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region. The abbots of Reting were responsible for the successful search and discovery of the 14th (and current) Dalai Lama, exiled Tibetans believe Beijing intends to use Phuntsok to help it install its own candidate as the 15th Dalai Lama.
Now, as Tibet is roiled by ethnic tensions, the teenager has become the youngest member of the Tibet Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, according to China Daily.
The CPPCC is a nominated advisory body which plays a key role in policy debate in China and officially performs “democratic supervision” of the ruling party.
Following his appointment, the teenager told the state-run newspaper that he would “keep the Reting lineage of patriotism and the love for the religion”.
Unlike the Panchen Lama, the Tibet Government in Exile and the Dalai Lama clique have not identified/chosen/enthroned a rival candidate as Reting Rinpoche.