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12-august-2011-labdrangDharamshala: - The Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, arrived today in the town of Sangchu county of Amdho, eastern Tibet (Ch: Xiahe in the Gansu province). Labrang Monastery, an important site in Tibetan Buddhism, is located in Sangchu. According to a report by the New York Times, the "skeptical crowd" of residents was forced to cheerfully welcome him with prayer flags and senior lamas made to welcome him at a reception hall.

Authorities beefed up security in the area and forced foreign tourists to leave Sangchu in preparation for the arrival of the Chinese Panchen Lama.

Senior monks at the monastery have said that he may be there studying and meditating for weeks. It remains to be seen how he will be received at Lobrang Monastery, as the majority of the over 1,000 monks living there support the Panchen Lama appointed by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, called Gedhun Choekyi. Soon after being appointed at age five, he and his family disappeared and are now in the custody of the Chinese government.

Chinese authorities have increasingly tried to cultivate support for the Chinese Panchen Lama, Gyaltsen Norbu, among Tibetans.

Arja Rinpoche, former abbot of Kumbum Monastery in eastern Tibet, fled to the United States in order to escape becoming Gyaltsen Norbu's tutor. He told the New York Times, "Just forcing him on the faithful cannot win hearts and minds but keeping him in Beijing all the time is also not good for his reputation."

The Chinese Panchen Lama was originally scheduled to be in Tibet in early July; however, officials postponed the visit due to concerns about a negative reception by the Tibetan community.

Han Chinese residents in Sangchu are excited about his visit; monks, on the other hand, are reluctant and concerned.

One monk told reporters, "He's not the real Panchen Lama. Why does Beijing think they have the right to interfere with our traditions?"

"If this was the real Panchen Lama, the whole town would have lined up for hours just to see him," an anonymous scholar said.

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