China steps up ‘train­ing’ of Ti­betan clergy, of­fi­cials

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - WEATHER DESK -

BEI­JING — Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties are ramp­ing up po­lit­i­cal in­doc­tri­na­tion among Ti­betan Bud­dhist clergy and of­fi­cials in charge of re­li­gious af­fairs as part of a cam­paign to strengthen the rul­ing Com­mu­nist Party’s grip on re­li­gion.

A Ti­bet government web­site re­ported last week that 35 of­fi­cials trav­eled to the east­ern city of Suzhou last month for “train­ing” in China’s poli­cies on Ti­bet, eth­nic and re­li­gious the­o­ries and diplo­macy.

An uniden­ti­fied num­ber of monks and nuns also un­der­went three days of train­ing in Ti­bet’s cap­i­tal, Lhasa, end­ing on June 2.

As fa­cil­i­ta­tors who pass on in­struc­tion in government poli­cies, they were told to be “reli­able in pol­i­tics and take a clear-cut and firm stance,” the web­site Ti­bet.cn re­ported.

The clergy and of­fi­cials un­der the party’s United Front Work Depart­ment re­spon­si­ble for re­li­gious af­fairs were from the Ti­bet Au­ton­o­mous Re­gion and eth­ni­cally Ti­betan ar­eas of Yun­nan prov­ince.

Such in­doc­tri­na­tion, along with com­pul­sory po­lit­i­cal study in monas­ter­ies, aims to re­duce the ap­peal of the Dalai Lama, Ti­bet’s ex­iled spir­i­tual leader, as well as build loy­alty to the of­fi­cially athe­is­tic party.

“It is im­por­tant for United Front Work of­fi­cials to im­prove their abil­ity first, es­pe­cially in re­gions such as Ti­betan ar­eas where the Dalai Lama clique in­tends to pen­e­trate,” Zhu Weiqun, for­mer chair­man of the Eth­nic and Re­li­gious Af­fairs Com­mit­tee of the leg­is­la­ture’s ad­vi­sory body, was quoted as say­ing.

Other re­li­gious groups have also come un­der in­creased pres­sure in re­cent months, with Chris­tian churches de­stroyed and hun­dreds of thousands of Mus­lims held in re-ed­u­ca­tion cen­ters where they are forced to de­nounce Is­lamic be­liefs and tra­di­tional cul­ture.

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