China Trains Tibetan Monks as 'Cheerleaders' For The State: Report

Email story
Comment on this story
Print story
Tibetan monks and nuns listen to a sermon in a monastery in Sichuan's Kardze prefecture in a file photo.
Tibetan monks and nuns listen to a sermon in a monastery in Sichuan's Kardze prefecture in a file photo.

In a new move aimed at bringing Tibetan Buddhist monasteries more closely under the control of the Chinese state, authorities are now grooming carefully chosen monks to learn and represent the views of the ruling Communist Party, a rights group said this week.

The program is part of a campaign of “Sinicization of religion” launched during the first term of Chinese president Xi Jinping, New York-based Human Rights Watch said in an Oct. 30 news release.

Under a “Four Standards” policy introduced this year in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, monks and nuns must demonstrate not only religious learning, but also “political reliability,” “moral integrity,” and a readiness to play “an active role” in blocking Tibetan protests against Chinese state policy, HRW said.

Speaking to RFA’s Tibetan Service, Sophie Richardson—China director at Human Rights Watch—called the new policy an attempt to turn Tibetan Buddhist practitioners into propagandists and “cheerleaders for the regime, which is deeply problematic.”

“I think that if these kinds of policies continue unabated, or if they accelerate, you will see in Tibet what’s already happened in Xinjiang, which is that the practice of [religion] as its adherents understand it and want to practice it will effectively become illegal,” Richardson said.

“I think that Xi Jinping’s goal is to refashion beliefs and institutions and policies and practices in ways that ensure that the Communist Party remains in power, and that he in particular remains in the leadership,” she said.

A new approach

The Four Standards policy follows earlier attempts, deemed largely unsuccessful, to reshape monastic life in Tibet by introducing work teams into the monasteries to conduct political training and by requiring monks and nuns to denounce exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, HRW said.

And later efforts brought in thousands of party cadres to manage the monasteries themselves, the rights group said.

Tibetans attending teachings by the Dalai Lama in India have since been detained for reeducation on their return to Tibetan areas of China, and senior monks trained in Indian monasteries have been banned by Chinese authorities from teaching.

“Politics, law and history” are now a required part of the training for senior religious teachers, called Geshes, seeking qualification under Chinese law, HRW said, citing Chinese media reports.

Now, the use of specially trained monastics to promote the views of the party and state may prove more effective than earlier campaigns, China’s Global Times newspaper said in a recent report cited by Human Rights Watch.

“They have a better understanding of the thoughts and habits of their group,” the state-linked paper said.

Reported by Tashi Wangchuk for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Written in English by Richard Finney.

Comments (3)

Samphel tsedup

from India

Dhondup Gyalpo,

You are accusing RFA Tibetan Service who is the best and most reliable source to bring confirmed news from all over, specially that is not accessible. What are you talking about, RFA didn’t mentioned the causes of death of Lodi Gyari.

This is such worst example of ignorance. Don’t try to discourage the RFA in what they best do. I doubt if you are a real Dhondup Gyalpo. Chinese official have said that we have to use those people they employed in different part of the world to bring them on the scene.

Good luck with your job! “Dhondup gyalpi”

[This comment has been edited by RFA Editorial staff per our Terms of Use]

Nov 09, 2018 03:54 PM


Make the Tibetans pay in blood

Nov 02, 2018 03:34 AM

Dhondup Gyalpo

from London

By gone are the days, when RFA Tibetan service breaks news from Tibet. Now it is no longer the case. News inside Tibet has become a rare commodity, thus I feel any original reporting by RFA on Tibet issues have gone down hill. Instead of leading the news, RFA has become a spectator of unfolding news, and trailing behind with weak, reproduction of secondary news. The latest Lodi Gyari story and this one, has nothing new in it. Simply reproduction of secondary news without any original reporting diminishes RFA's good name as a reputable news source. In the previous story, while so many other details have surfaced, RFA is still unbelievably struck not even knowing the causes of Gyari's death. It has become public knowledge of what illness he got, which was liver cancer. Why RFA seems to be so ignorant by stating causes of death unknown. Only with exclusive news reporting, Can RFA bring back its good name.

Nov 02, 2018 12:58 AM





More Listening Options

View Full Site