Category Archives: Buddhism

China defends putting up portraits of Mao in Tibetan temples


Women tend a garden under the gaze of Chinese Communist leaders. FROM LEFT: Hu Jintao, Jiang Zemin, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. Reuters/Stringer Shanghai

“Peaceful liberation of Tibet”

deccanherald.com | Mar 2 ,2012

Beijing – Accused of adopting “rough and oppressive” religious policies in Tibet, China today refuted the criticism and underlined that there was nothing wrong in its attempts put up the portraits of Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders in Tibetan temples.

Addressing questions on the Tibet issue, a top Chinese official refuted criticism that recurring suicides by Buddhist monks in Tibet was due to China’s “rough and oppressive” religious policies in the Himalayan region.

Commenting on the attempts by the ruling Communist party cadres to install portraits of Mao Zedong and other Chinese leaders in temples in Tibet, Zhao Qizheng, spokesman for the annual session of National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) said there nothing to be “accused” about it.

“The portrait you mentioned is a picture which commemorates the 60th anniversary of peaceful liberation of Tibet. In this picture the four leaders, (Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao) that you mentioned are portrayed”, he said.

“Therefore I do not think it is anything to be accused of. Rather the steps taken by TAR officials was welcomed by the local communities”, Zhao said at a nationally televised press conference on the eve of the annual session of the CPPCC, which is a advisory body comprising of over 2,000 nominated members.

The CPPCC formally begins its meetings tomorrow.

Seen as an attempt by the Chinese officials to gradually open up to the national and international media, Zhao entertained the question on Tibet, which in the recent months dominated the headlines all over the world with the periodic suicides of Buddhist monks demanding the return of their exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

So far 22 monks and nuns have attempted self immolations.

Zhao denied that the situation had turned serious in Tibet due to the oppressive religious policy followed by the local officials to maintain social order in the Himalayan region.

Declining to answer directly to a question whether China would ask to the Dalai Lama to make an appeal to stop the suicides, as he was on record that he would not encourage the self immolations, Zhao said the Tibetan spiritual leader actually applauded the suicide attempts.

“According to what I have heard, he publicly applauded the courage of these people who set fire to themselves,” he said.

Tibet is expected to figure in the deliberation of China’s top legislatures, the National Peoples Congress, (NPC) and CPPCC.

Reports from Tibet said besides strengthening government controls on monasteries, Chinese officials also tightened monitoring of internet and mobile services in Tibet and a number of Tibetan prefectures.

The Government has also said it would put down any separatist activities.

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Hundreds of Tibetans forced into re-education camps in China


Pro-Tibetan protesters shout slogans during a demonstration February 14, 2012 in Lafayette Park across from the White House in Washington, DC. (KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

China Detained Tibetans, Large Numbers Forced Into Re-Education Classes, Group Says

Tibetans were being held in makeshift detention centers in Lhasa and other areas, including some set up at an army base training center .

huffingtonpost.com | Feb 17, 2012

by ALEXA OLESEN

BEIJING — China has detained and forced into re-education classes hundreds of Tibetans who went to India to receive religious instruction from the Dalai Lama, a U.S.-based human rights group said.

It is the first time since the late 1970s that Chinese authorities have detained large numbers of ordinary Tibetans and placed them into re-education classes, Human Rights Watch said in an online statement. Tibetan monks and nuns are routinely made to attend patriotic education classes.

The statement posted Thursday said the exact number of those detained was unclear, but that it was believed to be several hundred.

It said the detainees had recently returned from Bihar, India, where they had attended lectures with the Dalai Lama, the Tibetans’ exiled spiritual leader who fled the Himalayan region in 1959 amid an abortive uprising against Chinese rule and is reviled by Beijing.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said at a regular press briefing Friday that China was stepping up security measures in Tibet to prevent separatist violence or incitement in the run-up to the anniversary of the March 14, 2008, riots in the regional capital, Lhasa, that left 22 people dead.

Liu was asked by a reporter to comment on the Human Rights Watch report but didn’t directly respond to the allegations and made no mention of mass detentions.

“Separatist organizations based overseas have made March of every year an important period for advocating violence and inciting separatism,” Liu said. “During this period, stepped up security in Tibetan areas will help crack down on separatist and sabotage activities and maintain social stability.”

Lhasa police and government officials said Friday that they were unaware of the alleged detentions.

Human Rights Watch said the Tibetans were being held in makeshift detention centers in Lhasa and other areas, including some set up at an army base, an army training center and a shelter for vagrants, as well as in hotels.

China accuses the Dalai Lama of a campaign to split Tibet from the rest of China. The Dalai Lama says he is seeking only increased autonomy for Tibet.

Human Rights Watch said around 700 ethnic Chinese also attended the Dalai Lama lectures, but that there were no reports of any of them being detained upon return to China.

Tibetan areas in the neighboring provinces of Sichuan and Qinghai have also been on tenterhooks for more than a year as more than a dozen monks, nuns and laypeople separately set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule.

The violence has highlighted anew what Tibetan activists say is the government’s failure to win over Tibetans and other ethnic minorities through policies to boost economic growth and incomes while increasing police presence and controlling religious practices to deter displays of separatism.

Tibetan Temples Forced to Display Communist Leader Portraits


A woman passes in front of a poster featuring Communist Party leaders of China including Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao in Shanghai, China. Kevin Lee/Bloomberg

NTD TV | Jan 27, 2012

January 22nd, 2012, the eve of Chinese New Year. Chinese officials in the Tibet Autonomous Region held a ceremony to unveil a portrait of four Communist leaders: Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao. They go on to state that they will send these portraits, as well as Communist flags, to villages, homes, and temples in the region.

It’s estimated that one million of these items have already been sent.

Chair of the Chinese Social Democratic Party, Liu Yinquan, believes the Chinese Communist Party is trying to use its symbols to replace those of traditional Tibetan Buddhism.

[Liu Yinquan, Chair of Chinese Social Democratic Party]:

“The Communist regime uses its single party rule and its party culture and symbols to slowly eliminate the Buddhist faith. This is in accordance with the religious policy that the Communist Party has always had. The Chinese Communist Party, on the surface, its constitution allows religious freedom, but it is actually changing religion, using religion to strengthen its single party rule, turning religion into a tool for its united front.”

In December 2011, authorities in Tibet introduced the “Nine Must-Haves” policy. It dictates nine items that all temples must display or carry portraits of Communist leaders, the Communist flag and a copy of the state-run People’s Daily.

[Liu Yinquan, Chair of Chinese Social Democratic Party]:
“Every situation has its specified ornaments, a temple is a place to worship the Buddha. So it should have the Buddhist scriptures, a Buddha statue, it has to have these things that are related to Buddhism. If you bring these other things in, it will make it all messed up.”

On the Lunar New Year itself, and just one day after the portrait ceremony, Chinese forces opened fire on Tibetan protesters in a Tibetan region of Sichuan. Recent clashes have left dozens of people wounded, with reports of several deaths.

The Chinese regime will close Tibet from February 20th until March 30th. That’s during the Tibetan New Year and the anniversary of the 2008 Tibetan riots, both sensitive dates for the regime.

Communist China, Maoist insurgents, a dethroned prince and the Rockefellers to build $3 billion ‘Buddhist Mecca’ in Nepal


Bodhi tree and the Mayadevi pond in Lumbini, Nepal, November 2006/Bpilgrim

China is providing funds to Nepal to build a $3 billion (£1.9bn) ‘Buddhist Mecca’ to attract millions of pilgrims and spiritual tourists to the birthplace of the religion’s founder Gautama, Lord Buddha.

Telegraph | Jun 17, 2011

By Dean Nelson, New Delhi, Peter Foster in Beijing

Lumbini is a Unesco world heritage site that attracts half a million pilgrims every year from China, India, Japan, Sri Lanka and Thailand to its sacred ponds, gardens and temples.

Planners hope to build an airport, hotels, convention centres, new highways, temples and a Buddhist university at the site on Nepal’s Western border with India, where Lord Buddha was born about 2,600 years ago.

The scheme is supported by a Chinese government-backed foundation and has brought together an unlikely alliance of Nepali government ministers, Prachanda, the former prime minister and leader of the Maoist insurgency, and Paras, the former crown prince, whose family Prachanda ousted from power.

It also has the support of Steven Clark Rockefeller, the heir to the Rockefeller dynasty.

According to Nepali officials devout Buddhists spend more time at the other three main pilgrimage sites in India because Lumbini does not have the infrastructure necessary for longer stays.

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China plans to help Nepal develop Buddha’s birthplace at Lumbini

Sarnath, in India’s Uttar Pradesh, where Buddha first taught “dharma” or natural law, Bodh Gaya in Bihar, where he found enlightenment under the Bodhi tree and Kushinagar where he found “nirvana” in death, are all drawing increasing numbers of high-spending tourists, and Nepal’s government wants to increase its share of the spoils.

China and Nepal signed an agreement earlier this year to develop the site, and the Beijing-based Asia Pacific Exchange and Co-operation Foundation has launched an ambitious campaign to raise the $3 billion required for the site to be transformed into the world’s leading Buddhist pilgrimage site.

Prachanda has made a number of fund-raising trips to Singapore and Malaysia, and hopes the project will create new jobs in Lumbini, a poor area.

China’s involvement in a project close to the border with India has caused discomfort in New Delhi, where the government has traditionally regarded itself as a patron of the Buddhist world through its hosting of the Dalai Lama and the Tibetan government in exile.

Chinese govt says Dalai Lama must reincarnate properly

Reuters | Mar 7, 2011

By Sui-Lee Wee and Ben Blanchard Sui-lee Wee And Ben Blanchard

BEIJING (Reuters) – Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, does not have a right to choose his successor any way he wants and must follow the historical and religious tradition of reincarnation, a Chinese official said Monday.

It is unclear how the 76-year-old Dalai Lama, who lives in India and is revered by many Tibetans, plans to pick his successor. He has said that the succession process could break with tradition — either by being hand-picked by him or through democratic elections.

But Padma Choling, the Chinese-appointed governor of Tibet, said that the Dalai Lama had no right to abolish the institution of reincarnation, underscoring China’s hardline stance on one of the most sensitive issues for the restless and remote region.

“I don’t think this is appropriate. It’s impossible, that’s what I think,” he said on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China’s parliament, when asked about the Dalai Lama’s suggestion that his successor may not be his reincarnation.

“We must respect the historical institutions and religious rituals of Tibetan Buddhism,” said Padma Choling, a Tibetan and a former soldier in the People’s Liberation Army. “I am afraid it is not up to anyone whether to abolish the reincarnation institution or not.”

The Chinese government says it has to approve all reincarnations of living Buddhas, or senior religious figures in Tibetan Buddhism. It also says China has to sign off on the choosing of the next Dalai Lama.

“Tibetan Buddhism has a history of more than 1,000 years, and the reincarnation institutions of the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama have been carried on for several hundred years,” Padma Choling said.

Some worry that once the Dalai Lama dies, China will simply appoint its own successor, raising the possibility of there being two Dalai Lamas — one recognized by China and the other chosen by exiles or with the blessing of the current Dalai Lama.

In 1995, after the Dalai Lama named a boy in Tibet as the reincarnation of the previous Panchen Lama, the second highest figure in Tibetan Buddhism, the Chinese government put that boy under house arrest and installed another in his place.

Many Tibetans spurn the Chinese-appointed Panchen Lama as a fake.

The Chinese government accuses the Dalai Lama of fomenting violence to seek Tibet’s independence. He rejects the claim, saying he is just pushing for greater autonomy.

Tibetan protests led by Buddhist monks against Chinese rule in March 2008 gave way to torrid violence, with rioters torching shops and turning on residents, especially Han Chinese, who many Tibetans see as intruders threatening their culture.

At least 19 people died in the unrest, which sparked waves of protests across Tibetan areas. Pro-Tibet groups overseas say more than 200 people were killed in a subsequent crackdown.

With the third anniversary of that unrest approaching, Tibet has taken measures to restrict visitors.

Zhang Qingli, Tibet’s hardline Communist Party chief, told reporters the restrictions were due to the “cold winter,” a slew of religious activities and limited number of hotels.

“This is in accordance with national laws,” he said.

China has ruled Tibet with an iron fist since Communist troops marched in 1950. It says its rule has bought much needed development to a poor and backward region.

Exiles and rights groups accuse China of failing to respect Tibet’s unique religion and culture and of suppressing its people.

‘Marxist’ Dalai Lama criticises capitalism

The Dalai Lama is giving a series of lectures at the Radio City Music Hall in central Manhattan until Sunday  Photo: GETTY

The Dalai Lama has criticised capitalism calling himself a Marxist, on a four day trip to New York

Telegraph | May 20, 2010

The Tibetan spiritual leader said Marxism has “moral ethics, whereas capitalism is only how to make profits.”

However, he credited China’s embrace of market economics for breaking communism’s grip over the world’s most populous country and forcing the ruling Communist Party to “represent all sorts of classes.”

Capitalism “brought a lot of positive to China. Millions of people’s living standards improved,” he said.

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The Dalai Lama, 74, giving a series of lectures at the Radio City Music Hall in central Manhattan until Sunday, struck a strikingly optimistic note in general, saying that he believed the world is becoming a kinder, more unified place.

Anti-war movements, huge international aid efforts after Haiti’s earthquake this year, and the election of Barack Obama as the first black president in a once deeply racist United States are “clear signs of human beings being more mature,” he said.

The Dalai Lama said he felt a “sense of the oneness of human beings,” jokingly adding: “If those thoughts are wrong, please let me know!”

Although China, which forced him to escape for his life in 1959, is loosening up, he had harsh words for a communist leadership that he said still seeks to rule by fear.

As Chinese become richer, “they want more freedoms, they want an independent judiciary, they want to have a free sort of press,” he said.

The Chinese government, he said, seeks harmony, “but harmony must come out of the heart, not out of fear. So far, methods to bring harmony mostly rely on use of force.”

China earthquake: Tibetan vulture sky burials abandoned as bodies pile up

A Tibetan Buddhist monk waters down the deceased at the Jiegu Monastery Photo: AFP / GETTY

Tibetan monks are forced to cremate bodies as the death toll from Wednesday’s earthquake continues to climb.

The number of bodies at the Jiegu monastery contradicts the official death toll.

Telegraph | Apr 16, 2010

By Malcolm Moore in Jiegu

The corpses are piled three-deep at Jiegu’s Tibetan Buddhist monastery, perched on the mountain above the earthquake-ravaged town.

“More than a thousand bodies were brought here,” said Ge Laidanzeng, a 20-year-old Tibetan lama at the monastery.

By the side of the monastery, a bright yellow hall open to the air on one side and painted with pink lotuses, was filled with corpses.

Normally used for mass rituals, this hall was the only place large enough to hold so many dead.

“Three hundred have been claimed by relatives, the others we will take care of,” said the young monk.

As he spoke, a family clambered over the pile of bodies, each shrouded in cotton or tarpaulin, eventually claiming their dead mother and loading her body into a minivan.

To one side, thirty lamas chanted sutras, as they have constantly since the bodies began to arrive. More monks swathed the bodies in Tan Cheng prayer flags.

Traditionally, the dead would be given sky burials, their bodies dismembered and then scattered on the top of the mountain for vultures to eat.

“We cannot do this for them,” said Ge. “There are too many for the vultures to eat.”

Instead, the dead will be cremated on Saturday after a prayer service by the head of the Aka monastery, a Living Buddha.

The number of bodies at the Jiegu monastery contradicts the official death toll from Wednesday’s quakes, the largest of which measured 7.1 magnitude, according to the China Earthquake bureau.

On Friday, the official death toll climbed to 760, with a further 243 people missing and 1,174 severely injured.

“I believe at least 10,000 were killed,” said Ge. “There are four other monasteries collecting the dead and they are the same as us,” he said. “Then there are all the people still buried. The government is playing down the figures.”

In residential parts of Jiegu, some survivors were being pulled out of the rubble on Friday, three days after the quake struck.

But they were hugely outnumbered by corpses.

Rescue teams have struggled to reach Jiegu, which lies 12 hours from the nearest major airport and 10,000ft up on the Tibetan plateau.

On Friday, the first teams with sniffer dogs, heartbeat detectors and fibre-optic cameras began scouring the wreckage.

Li Xiaojun, 22, a firefighter and Alsatian handler, said that his team from the north-western province of Shandong, and their dogs, were struggling to adapt to the altitude after arriving overnight.

“First we scan the debris with the heartbeat detectors, then we send in the dogs,” he said. “However our spirits are low. The dogs’ tails are down. The hopes of finding survivors are pretty slim now.”

At the Saikang monastery, on the fringes of Jieshu, teams of purple- robed monks were working with camouflaged soldiers to search for the hundred monks buried underneath.

“We got here today and immediately started digging,” said Zhayierjilang, a monk from Gansi. “So far, all we have found are bodies though.”

Behind him, Chinese soldiers held up a deer’s head and a belt of bullets they had unearthed. In another ruined house nearby, a small portrait of the young Dalai Lama had been concealed among the beams.

An exodus has begun in Jiegu, with many families travelling on motorbikes, lorries and buses to stay with relatives elsewhere. “All our possessions were destroyed, we will be back, but it is too cold to stay here without food and warm clothes,” said Jiang Junning, 30, who was on his way to the provincial capital of Xining.

For those left behind, the situation is grim. Despite the huge convoys of aid from the Chinese government, many families said they lacked food, water and medicine.

Ten thousand survivors, 90 per cent of whom were Tibetan, had set up camp on the race track outside Jiegu. However, only 16 doctors were on hand from the Red Cross to treat them.

“We are seeing 1,500 people a day, but we don’t have the resources or medicine to travel around the tents,” said one doctor. “When we clean their wounds, they get re-infected by the dust and the unsanitary conditions,” he said, warning that the chance of infections and disease was severe.

In one tent, Yan Zhibing, 26, was sheltering with his wife and six month-old son. “When the earthquake struck, my first thought was to grab my baby son and run. Only later did I realise my wife had been buried.”

His wife lay still in the corner of the tent, a swollen and infected foot visible on the earth and straw floor. “We don’t have medicine for her, and we don’t have enough food. She has not produced any milk to feed the baby for two days, we are desperate,” he said.

Outside, aid convoys were slowly rolling in, but too late for some.

Hundreds of monks at the camp were already chanting the first burial rites for ten more dead, wrapped in cloth and loaded onto vans for the trip up to the Jiegu monastery.