Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was chosen by the Dalai Lama in 1995 to be the Panchen Lama, the second most important spiritual leader of the Tibetan religion. Three days later he and his family were abducted by the People's Republic of China and have not been seen since.
In 2010, Beijing appointed its own Panchen Lama who has been widely disregarded by Tibetan Buddhists.
In a statement Monday, Pompeo said the United States has made it a priority to protect religious freedom, especially in China, and was marking the 25th anniversary of the 11th Panchen Lama's disappearance by calling on China to announce where he is being held.
"We call on the PRC government to immediately make public the Panchen Lama's whereabouts and to uphold its own constitution and international commitments to promote religious freedom for all persons," Pompeo said.
The United States' top diplomat said the Trump administration remains "deeply concerned" about the Asian nation's continuing campaign to "eliminate the religious, linguistic and cultural identity of Tibetans."
On the 25th anniversary of Gedhun Choekyi Nyima's appointment, Sam Brownback, ambassador at large for International Religious Freedom at the State Department, told reports they have no idea where he was being held and that they were continuing to pressure Chinese authorities to release him.
He said the issue will continue to be brought up, especially since the Chinese Communist Party continues to assert its right to appoint the next Dalai Lama.
"They don't have the right to appoint the next Dalai Lama any more [than] they don't have the right to appoint the next Pope," he told reporters.
Gary Bauer, the commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, last week called for the United States to use every policy tool it has to confront China's attempt to "erase the unique identity of Tibetan Buddhism."
In the USCIRF's 2020 annual report, the agency urged the Trump administration to impose sanctions against Chinese officials responsible for violating the religious freedom of Tibetan Buddhists.
The agency has also called for Gedhun Choekyi Nyima's release.