China’s version of religious freedom: Tibetan monasteries should become propaganda centers

Last week, we heard once again Chinese Communist Party’s officials reiterating their concept of religious freedom in Tibet.

Chen Quanguo, the Tibet Autonomous Region’s Party chief, wrote in the People’s Daily newspaper that monks and nuns should be evaluated for their “patriotism,” a word they use to describe their allegiance to the Communist Party. In China’s one-party system the Party is institutionally more important than the State.

Also, he wrote:

“Let the monks and nuns in the temples and monasteries have a personal feeling of the party and government’s care and warmth; let them feel the party’s benevolence, listen to the party’s words and follow the party’s path.”

To complete his article he added that all Tibetan monasteries should also fly the Chinese national flag. Chen Quanguo clearly thinks of monasteries as if they were government buildings where the national flag should be displayed, and this explains very well the depth of control that the government of China wants to have over Tibetan Buddhism.

Furthermore, for years now China’s police officers (“patriotic teams”) have been permanently stationed inside or next to Tibet’s monasteries, working to ensure that their thinking is in line with the Party’s desires and that “troublemakers” are kept in check.

If it weren’t tragic, it’s ridiculous to think that an important official of the second biggest economy in the world could make such statements in 2015. But this is what is happening in China and, with the exception of some important international media coverage (many of which quoted ICT in their stories), very few international institutions and governments worldwide seem to notice that this is happening in Tibet today.

So, our duty to monitor and expose these developments, and to provide principled and balanced analysis, is even more necessary while the economic clout and influence of China on our governments and societies grows.

It isn’t just Tibet that we should save; it is our faith that human values cannot be taken away from some without others speaking up on their behalf. This is what interdependence means in a global society. Nobody will stay free forever unless all human beings concretely support each other to achieve that goal.

You have an opportunity to do your part by joining the International Campaign for Tibet.
Please do it today, it will not only support our efforts to help our brothers and sisters in Tibet but, by challenging China’s authoritarian rule and political influence, it will help to build a better world for all of us.


About author View all posts

Matteo Mecacci

Matteo Mecacci, is President of the International Campaign for Tibet. Born in Firenze (Florence) Italy, Matteo Mecacci, studied International law at the University of Firenze. He represented the Transnational Radical Party and No Peace without Justice at the UN in New York from 2001 to 2008 and later served as a member of the Italian Chamber of Deputies as well as an elected official of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Parliamentary Assembly. In that capacity he participated in over 20 election observation missions, including as OSCE Special Coordinator in Serbia and Belarus in 2012.
He was appointed head of mission of the OSCE/ODHIR election observation mission in Georgia in 2013. He served as Chairperson of the Italian Parliamentary Intergroup for Tibet, and in 2009, he organized the 5th World Parliamentarians Convention on Tibet in Rome. He was Co-chair of the International Network of Parliamentarians on Tibet (INPaT) and played an active role in promoting Tibetan democracy in exile, and was a Co-Chair of the Tibetan Election Observation Mission in 2011.