Hongai village (aka Taktser) has got a whole new look, thanks to the Chinese authorities. The birthplace of the Dalai Lama is undergoing huge redevelopment, including the Tibetan spiritual leader’s family home.
The building in Hongai village, at the summit of a towering peak, is the only place in China dedicated to the man Beijing considers a violent separatist and a “wolf in monk’s robes”.
But the house has become a symbol of China’s bitterly divisive policy in Tibetan regions following its 2.5 million yuan refurbishment, amid concern from international rights groups over the scale and speed of Tibetan housing and relocation programmes.
“This is not modernisation but Sinofication,” Tibetan poet and activist Tsering Woeser told AFP.
Hongai is in Qinghai province, several hundred kilometres away from the border of the Tibetan special administrative region.
“Today, the once bleak, underdeveloped county is closer to a boom town,” local official Sun Xiuzong told Xinhua.
The Dalai Lama’s birthplace was allegedly destroyed by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution, but rebuilt at some point in the 1980s. Xinhua says that the “refurbished compound has retained its original look, but the ground is newly paved, beams have been reinforced and murals were repainted.”
The website of the Central Tibetan Administration, formerly headed by the Dalai Lama, was hacked this month to infect visitors with spyware and viruses.