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‘Dalai Lama is a Political Figure under the cloak of Religion, Meeting or Hosting the Dalai Lama is a major offence’ Warns China

In April this year, China had reacted violently to a visit by the Dalai Lama to Tawang, in India’s northeast border state of Arunachal Pradesh, large parts of which is claimed by Beijing.

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Dalai Lama
The 14th Dalai Lama, Wikimedia

Beijing, October 21, 2017 : As US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prepares to visit India next week, China on Saturday warned that it will be deeply offended if any foreign leader meets with or any country invites the Dalai Lama.

On the sidelines of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, a Chinese Minister dubbed the Tibetan spiritual leader as a “political figure under the cloak of religion”.

“Any country or any organisation or anyone accepting to meet with the Dalai Lama in our view is a major offence to the sentiment of the Chinese people,” said Zhang Yijiong, Executive Vice Minister of the United Front Work Department of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC).

“Also, since they have committed to recognising China as a sole legitimate government representing China, it contravenes their attempt, because it is a serious commitment,” Zhang added.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of stoking unrest and secessionist activities in Tibet from where the spiritual leader fled to India in 1959 after a failed uprising.

The Dalai Lama has urged for more autonomy for Tibet.

Beijing opposes any country or leader keeping in touch with the Dalai Lama.

“I want to make it clear that the 14th Dalai Lama, the living Buddha handed down by history is a political figure under the cloak of religion,” said Zhang.

In February this year, Tillerson had told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during his confirmation hearing that he is committed to promoting dialogue on Tibet and receiving the Dalai Lama.

Top US Democrat Nancy Pelosi had visited the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India, in May, and sought to draw the world’s attention to human rights in Tibet, triggering protests by China.

China resorts to different tactics if any country hosts the Dalai Lama. For instance, Beijing blocked a major highway leading to Mongolia, crippling the economy there after Ulan Bator hosted the leader late last year.

Mongolia later apologised and promised Beijing never to invite the Dalai Lama.

“Officials, in their capacity as officials, attending all foreign-related activities represent their governments. So I hope governments around the world speak and act with caution and give full consideration to their friendship with China and their respect for China’s sovereignty,” Zhang added.

The comments from the Chinese Minister also comes days after Tillersoon described India as a partner in a strategic relationship and said the US would “never have the same relationship with China, a non-democratic society”.

According to reports, last month China refused to fund travel for visiting scholars at University of California, San Diego, apparently in retaliation for inviting the Dalai Lama to be its 2017 commencement speaker.

In April this year, China had reacted violently to a visit by the Dalai Lama to Tawang, in India’s northeast border state of Arunachal Pradesh, large parts of which is claimed by Beijing. (IANS)

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Impoverished Tibetan Families Receive Cash Payments in Return to Display Xi Jinping Portraits

"The money will not be given if the families don’t agree to the required condition,” RFA’s source said, citing contacts in the region

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xi jinping portrait
China Offers Money to Tibetans to Display Portraits of Xi Jinping. Wikimedia Commons

Authorities in northwestern China’s Qinghai province are offering cash payments to impoverished Tibetan families to display portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping in their homes, in a move aimed at enforcing Tibetan loyalty to Beijing, Tibetan sources say.

The new campaign, now under way in Arte village in the Tsolho  (in Chinese, Hainan) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture’s Serchen (Gonghe) county, has promised 6,000 yuan (U.S. $869) to more than 30 families to hang the portrait in a prominent place, a source in exile told RFA’s Tibetan Service.

“The money will not be given if the families don’t agree to the required condition,” RFA’s source said, citing contacts in the region.

“Because of financial constraints and poor livelihood opportunities in the area, the Tibetans have no choice but to take the money and put up Xi’s picture,” the source said, adding that the portrait of China’s president must be placed as high any picture of the Potala Palace, winter home of exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.

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A portrait of Chinese president Xi Jinping is shown hanging on the wall of a Tibetan home in Qinghai. RFA

“The families are choosing to do this because they need the money to survive, but they regret this immensely,” the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Serchen county lies almost 142 km (88 miles) away from Xining city in Qinghai, a part of northeastern Tibet historically known to Tibetans as Amdo, and Arte village falls with four other villages under the jurisdiction of Arte township in the town of Chabcha.

Dalai Lama photos banned

Authorities in Tibetan-populated regions of western Chinese provinces have meanwhile launched a new push against possession of photos of the Dalai Lama, traveling to remote areas that had previously escaped police attention, sources told RFA in earlier reports.

The campaign, which began at the end of April, has targeted Serthar county in Sichuan’s Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, but is also being enforced in other areas of the eastern Tibetan region historically known as Kham, one source said.

xi jinping portrait, dalai lama
Displays by Tibetans of the Dalai Lama’s photo or public celebrations of his birthday have been harshly punished in the past. Wikimedia Commons

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Chinese officials from government bureaus monitoring religious practice are also visiting Tibetan schools and warning teachers and students not to keep or display the photos, adding that local Tibetans have also been urged to tell high-ranking Chinese visitors of the “big improvements in their living conditions” owing to government subsidies.

The Dalai Lama, who turned 83 on July 6, 2018, fled Tibet into exile in India in the midst of a failed 1959 national uprising against Chinese rule, and displays by Tibetans of the Dalai Lama’s photo or public celebrations of his birthday have been harshly punished in the past. (RFA)

Reported by Chakmo Tso for RFA’s Tibetan Service. Translated by Tenzin Dickyi. Written in English by Richard Finney.