China’s chief official in Tibet has announced that Buddhist monks and nuns will be tested for patriotism and monasteries will be subject to new rules, according to a report by The Guardian.
Using typical Communist Party jargon, the region’s top official declared there would be ‘assessment activities’ to confirm the ‘patriotic and law-abiding’ qualities of monks and nuns, as well as to make them ‘feel the warmth and care of the Party and government’. Despite the characteristically nebulous language, the evaluations likely refer to a test of political allegiance to China’s ruling party; expressions such as ‘patriotic’ and ‘harmonious’ generally appear in the context of the ‘One-China’ policy.
The statement also provided that Tibetan monasteries must install Chinese national flags and be equipped with telephone connections, newspapers and reading rooms. Given that the inclination of Tibetan Buddhism is famously one of seclusion and to reject materialism and outside influence, this latest Communist Party decree may be viewed by supporters of Tibetan independence as a further imposition on the native culture.
Indeed, the move comes at a tense time on the Tibet frontier, with China recently claiming the exiled Dalai Lama had profaned Buddhism by saying he would not be reincarnated while Tibet remained under Chinese rule.
Since 2009, 130 Buddhist monks have self-immolated in protest to perceived Chinese repression and systematic dismantling of Tibetan culture.
By Liam Bourke