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House of Commons Hansard
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14 March 2000
Volume 346
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To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he has taken to establish whether the Panchen Lama is alive. [114111]

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We remain concerned about the absence of any independent verification of the whereabouts of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, the Dalai Lama's choice as Panchen Lama. We regularly urge the Chinese authorities to allow access by diplomats or an independent figure to confirm his state of health and living conditions. I raised the matter with Chinese Vice Foreign Minister, Wang Yingfan, in Beijing on 9 November 1999, and was given a written assurance that reports that Gedhun Choekyi Nyima had died were not accurate and that he was alive and well. We also raised the Gedhun's case during the fourth round of the UK/China bilateral human rights dialogue in February and received similar assurances. We will continue to press for independent access.