Skip to main content
Australia Edition
Monday, 21 June 2021

China expands Tibet's political education drive

Duration: 02:37s 0 shares 1 views
China expands Tibet's political education drive
China expands Tibet's political education drive

In a rare and tightly chaperoned government tour of the region last week, a Reuters journalist was invited to Tibet as China broadens its political education campaign.

Olivia Chan reports.

In Tibet's capital city Lhasa, there's one image that is ubiquitous: portraits of Chinese President Xi Jinping and fellow leaders.

China is broadening a political education campaign to mark the 70th anniversary of its control over the region.

In a rare and tightly chaperoned government tour last week, a Reuters reporter met with civilians and religious figures who pledged loyalty to the Communist Party and Xi.

This is an exchange with a monk at Jokhang Temple: [Reuters reporter:] "Who is your spiritual leader?

Is it the 14th Dalai Lama?" [Lhakpa:] "Xi Jinping!" [Reuters reporter:] "Really?

Let me ask one more time, who is your spiritual leader?" [Lhakpa:] "I'm not drunk.

I'm very conscious.

I speak freely to you." The Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

He has since established a government - the Central Tibetan Administration or the CTA - in exile based in Dharamsala, India.

Beijing has labeled him a dangerous separatist and said when he passes away the government will select its own successor.

In Tibet's College of Buddhism, a major religious training school on the outskirts of Lhasa, Chinese flags flew atop temples.

Vice director of the college Kelsang Wandui said around 40% of the school's study program was dedicated to political and cultural education.

"We are under the leadership of the Communist Party now, of course, so we must learn about politics." The CTA said quote "the political re-education campaign has been reinvigorated to Sinicize Tibet." This is Robert Barnett, a Professional Research Associate from SOAS university in London: "They can't even be a monk or nun if they don't show that political loyalty and they certainly can't go to the college unless they wholly demonstrate that they are politically loyal // They are training these people or hoping to train these people to become preachers for the Communist Party and its new version of Tibetan Buddhism."" Beijing has consistently denied any accusations of rights abuses in Tibet, and says people in China are free to practice approved religions, including Buddhism.

Explore