It is interesting to note that while present day China’s leaders, especially President Xi Jinping,
leave no chance to flex muscles and boast about China’s power and influence across the globe,
they are finding themselves helpless and desperate within the boundaries of their own colonies.
Whether it is Tibet, East Turkistan (Xinjiang) or South Mongolia, news related to coercion and
frequent announcements about new laws and regulations to control religious activities among
the local populations keep filtering out of the iron curtain. The Chinese rulers of these colonies
appear to be deeply annoyed by Uyghur’s faith in Islam and Tibetans and Mongolians’ faith in
Buddhism despite all the efforts. On one part it is seen as a challenge to the atheist communist
leadership and on the other it represents their determination to maintain their original national
identity and refusal to dissolve them into the Chinese Han identity. Both are interpreted as an
act of defiance to the communist rule and hence a ‘splitist’ activity which is dealt with as the
worst ‘crime’ against the Chinese state.
This anger and the desperation of Chinese rulers of these colonies reflected itself once again early
this month on 4th of August when authorities in Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of
Sichuan province of China issued formal orders threatening Tibetans against posting any
messages on the social media related to the 80th birthday of 11thKyabjeKirti Rinpoche who
happens to be the abbot of the Kirti monastery of Ngaba. Kirti is among the most important and
influential monasteries in the Ngaba and Dzoge regions of original Tibet. Kirti and Ngabahave
been in the international news frequently over past many years because maximum number of
self-immolations by Tibetans against China’s colonial rule over Tibet have happened in this
region. On the last count, the total number of such known immolations in Tibet was over 154.
Kirti Rinpoche is a learned Buddhist scholar, a vocal critic of China’s rule over Tibet and an active
supporter of Tibetan independence. He had escaped to India along with Dalai Lama in 1959.
Yet another news about Beijing’s worries against the ever increasing popularity of Tibetan
Buddhism Tibet and China itself came out late last month on 27th July from Yunfu, a prefecturelevel city Guangdong which is among the most prosperous and industrialized provinces of China.
The communist administrators ofYunfuformally issued a “Notice on the Boycott of Illegal
Missionary Activities of Tibetan Buddhist Monks” which was aimed at the visiting Tibetan monks
who come there from Tibet and other countries.
Reporting this event ‘bitterwinter.org,’ an online news magazine from Milano of Italy, dedicated
to monitoring the Communist Party of China and Chinese government activities in its colonies,
reported, “Teachings by visiting Tibetan Buddhist monks had gained popularity in the city at a
time when temples under the government-controlled China Buddhist Association (CBA) acted as
little more than propaganda centres for the Communist Party of China (CPC).”
Last year in July (20-21) when President Xi Jinping went to Tibet on an announced visit he had
called upon the CPC leaders, Chinese administrators of Tibet and the Tibetan cadres to work hard
for establishing “Tibetan Buddhism which Chinese socialistic characteristics”. This itself was an
admission on the part the supreme Chinese leader about the power of Buddhism in Tibet despite
China’s 70-yearlong rule and also revealed his plans to wean out the Tibetan masses from its
influence by diluting and destroying it through communist indoctrination.
Xi’s this new campaign is now finding its expression in the obsession of CPC with
GyaltsenNorbuwhom it has been showcasing before the Tibetan people and the world as the
‘real’ 11th incarnation of the Panchen Lama. The 10th Panchen Lama had initially proved to be a
useful tool in the hands of Beijing when the Dalai Lama escaped to India and the Chinese used
him to placate the Tibetan people’s anger. However the 10th Panchen Lama fell from grace of the
Beijing rulers when he openly challenged Mao on his claims about bringing ‘happiness and
prosperity’ to the Tibetan people under Chinese rule. He was later rehabilitated after serving jail
and the labour-camp ignominy for over a decade but suddenly died under mysterious
circumstances in Tibet in 1989 after criticizing the Beijing rulers for their misdeeds in Tibet.
In mid-June this year Norbu was advertised by the Chinese media as presiding over a Buddhist
symposium which was held by the Tibetan branch of the Buddhist Association and was aimed at
“promoting the Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism”.Norbu was picked up by CPC from nowhere in
1995 as the ‘real’ Panchen Lama when he was just 5 year old. This sudden decision of the CPC
came in the wake of Dalai Lama recognizing another boy, 6 year old GedhunChoekyiNyima, as
the new ‘incarnation’ of the 10th Panchen Lama after some Tibetan members of the China
appointed search team leaked out details about their finding to the Dalai Lama in exile. Gedhun
and his parents were quickly lifted away by the Chinese police and CPC installed Norbu as the
‘real’ Panchen Lama. 27 years after this abduction the world has yet to hear about the fate of
Gedhun and his parents.
However in its desperation to tame the Tibetan masses the Beijing government has been
brandishing Norbu as the ‘supreme’ religious leader of Buddhism on international forums as well
asduring many Buddhist events in China and Tibet. But the trick has not worked. Rather, inside
Tibet local Chinese administrators have to use their powers, including the police, to force local
Tibetans to attend Norbu’s congregations. All this only shows that the people of Tibet have
refused to accept China’s rule despite more than seven decades of colonial suppression and
coercion. Their faith in Buddhism and Dalai Lama is one of many ways they adopt to express it.