AP Radio AP Radio News:

Jul 21, 7:08 AM EDT

China's Panchen Lama presides over key Buddhist ritual

Video photo gallery on trash in China
China celebrates 60th year
Panorama of Tiananmen Square
Remembering Tiananmen
A year after China quake
Migrant laborers struggle to find work
Checking Beijing's Air
China's morning exercises in parks
Exploring Chinese Cuisine
Beijing Architecture Changes For Games
Woman Rescues Homeless Quake Dogs
China Holds Funeral for Panda
China's 1-child Policy Causes Extra Pain
Map of Earthquake Zone in Central China
Entrepreneurs Move Into, Out of China
Olypmics in Beijing Highlight China's Water Woes
Foreign Buyers Head to China Despite Problems
Coal Use Produces Pollution, Illness
Coal Means Profit, Woes for China
China Extending Its Reach Around the World
In China, the Desert Closes In
Latest News
Floods kill at least 154 across China, leave scores missing

IMF head calls for quick end to Brexit uncertainty

NKorean airliner catches fire, makes forced landing in China

Trump blasts China for trade, currency actions

China's calls for South China Sea talks face challenges

Audio Slideshow
Panorama of Tiananmen Square
Remembering Tiananmen

BEIJING (AP) -- China's hand-picked Panchen Lama is presiding over a key Buddhist ritual being held in Tibet for the first time in 50 years, in a move criticized by overseas Tibetan groups as an attempt to legitimize him as a religious leader.

The second-highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism was present for the Kalachakra instructions that began Thursday morning at his home monastery in southwestern Tibet, the official Xinhua News Agency said. The report said an estimated 50,000 Buddhists were attending the four-day event.

Beijing named its own Panchen Lama in 1995 after rejecting the 6-year-old boy who was recognized by the Dalai Lama, the highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism who fled into exile in India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese forces. The government has long vilified the Dalai Lama as a separatist and denies his traditional right to recognize reincarnated lamas.

China claims it has had sovereignty over Tibet for more than seven centuries. Many Tibetans say Tibet was essentially independent for most of that time.

London-based Free Tibet said the resumption of the ritual was intended to bolster the standing of a cleric who many Tibetans regard as a fake.

"The officially atheist Chinese government has long tried to impose its authority on Tibet by co-opting Tibetan Buddhism," Free Tibet director Eleanor Byrne-Rosengren said in a press release. The Panchen Lama's "presence at this Kalachakra stems from the Chinese occupation rather than from genuine religious legitimacy."

© 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Latest News