03/05/2008, 00.00
CHINA
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Mao's grandson enters into politics, but the Panchen Lama is put on hold in Beijing

The inaugural session of the political advisory conference of the Chinese people saw the participation, for the first time, of Mao Xinyu, grandson of the Great Helmsman. No appointment for the Panchen Lama in Beijing.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Mao Xinyu, grandson of President Mao (in the photo), made his debut in national politics yesterday.  Replacing his mother - Shao Hua, daughter-in-law of the Great Helmsman - the 30 year-old colonel of the popular liberation army participated as a delegate at his first session of the political advisory conference of the Chinese people, the advisory body that accompanies - without any voting power - the work of the National People's Congress.

Visibly embarrassed in front of the television cameras and microphones, Mao said that "my area of competence is the army: increasing the funds directed to the military is a proper and necessary move".  Furthermore, he emphasized the importance of "continuing to follow the principles set down by my grandfather".  These include improving the technologies destined for military and aerospace purposes, the "real battlefield of the future".

But missing was Gyaltsen Norbu, the young Tibetan chosen by Beijing as Panchen Lama - the second-highest spiritual figure in Buddhism - who was supposed to have entered into the political arena this year.  A spokesman of the NPC explained that "members of the National People's Congress must be at least 18 years old. The Panchen Lama was not yet 18 when elections were held".

According to some analysts, the decision reveals, instead, the government's unhappiness with the attitude of the young man, who is thought to be insufficiently aggressive toward the Dalai Lama.  The deputies of the NPC are appointed rather than elected.  The failed appointment, announced by government sources a few months ago, is thought to be a punishment of Norbu, who is hated in Tibet.

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