Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Visiting Chinese VP warns Tibet’s monks against separatism

(, Jul22, 2011) Visiting Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) for celebrations marking its 60th annexation anniversary, China’s Vice President Xi Jinping on Jul 20 told a carefully selected and controlled crowd of more than 100 monks, as well as “representatives from the religious circle”, at Jokhang temple in Lhasa to "stay clear from" separatist forces. Calling Tibet an inalienable part of China since ancient times, he lauded the people from the religious circle for having helped maintain social stability, national integrity and ethnic unity, reported China’s official Xinhua news agency Jul 20.
"The Party and the government will not forget your positive contributions," Xi was quoted as saying, urging them to carry on the patriotic spirit, stay in line with the Party and the government, and strive for Tibet's development and the improvement of the people's living standards.

The report noted that the temple was located near Lhasa's downtown streets which were hit hardest by the deadly riots on Mar 14, 2008. It added that the involvement of monks in the alleged violence had prompted the authorities to launch a year-long legal education campaign in the TAR’s 505 monasteries to raise the legal awareness of monks and nuns and dissuade them from being duped by separatist forces and ensure the normal practice of Buddhism.

A couple of weeks after the demonstrations in Lhasa, a group of monks at the Jokhang temple staged a brief protest in front of visiting foreign reporters, expressing support for the Dalai Lama. They shouted down a Chinese official who was briefing the journalists on the recent unrest, and said: "We want the Dalai Lama to return to Tibet, we want to be free," AFP Jul 20 quoted one of the journalists as having said at the time.

The Xinhua report said the Jokhang holds important Buddhist events, such as the selection for the reincarnation of the Panchen Lama, referring to the Nov 1995 selection of the Chinese government dictated Panchen Lama Gyaltsen Norbu.

The more than 1,300-year-old Jokhang Temple houses a life-sized statue of Buddha Shakyamuni as a 12-year-old, brought to Tibet by the Tang princess Wencheng when she was given away in marriage to Tibet’s powerful 7th century king Songtsen Gampo.

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