China Struggles to Diminish Appeal of Tibetan Buddhism

August 14, 2005

Source: CNEWS

Wire Service: AP

On August 14, 2005 the Associated Press reported, "More than four decades after the Dalai Lama fled Tibet during an unsuccessful revolt against Chinese rule, Beijing's efforts to diminish and discredit him have failed. Living across the border in India, he is widely known in China and abroad... In Tibet itself, where his picture is banned, tourists from Beijing and Shanghai hike the pilgrim routes and turn the metal prayer wheels imprinted with Buddhist scripture and set in rows outside temples. With each spin, they are said to send a prayer to heaven. It reveals 'a spiritual hunger that Chinese have to know more about Buddhism,' said Kate Saunders of the Washington-based International Campaign for Tibet. 'I think that's a sign of hope for the future.' The Chinese government deeply distrusts religion as pulling allegiance away from the ruling Communist Party. It limits the numbers of monks and forces them to attend lessons in communist theory. As many as 200 people are believed to be in prison on charges of undermining China's rule over Tibet, according to the Free Tibet Campaign. The Chinese Foreign Ministry routinely denounces what it says is a separatist campaign by the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama has said repeatedly he wants not independence for Tibet but more autonomy to protect its unique Buddhist culture."