Senior Chinese leader Li Ruihuan Saturday met Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, the 11th Panchen Lama.
The meeting between Li and the 11th Panchen took place just before the traditional Chinese Lunar New Year and the Tibetan New Year, known as the Year of the Iron Snake by the Tibetan calendar.
Li, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, presented a gift to the 11th Panchen, and offered his congratulations on the latter's 12th birthday.
The 11th Panchen also offered gifts to Li Ruihuan, who said the 11th Panchen has made progress in various areas thanks to the care and support of the Party's leadership and departments concerned.
The 11th Panchen Lama expressed his gratitude to the Party and the central government for their care of and attention to him.
The 11th Panchen ascended the throne in 1995 at the Zhaxi Lhunbo Lamasery in southwest China 's Tibet Autonomous Region with the approval of the central government, and after a series of verifications, as the reincarnation of the 10th Panchen Lama.
(Xinhua News Agency February 9, 2002)