China to test Tibetan monks and nuns for patriotism | World news | The Guardian

China to test Tibetan monks and nuns for patriotism | World news | The Guardian

Tibetan lamas chant sutras during a prayer session at the Tashilhunpo Monastery, Tibet Autonomous Region

China’s top official in Tibet vowed on Wednesday to evaluate Buddhist monks and nuns for their “patriotism” and install national flags in monasteries to strengthen ideological control in the region.

The ruling Communist party will deepen “assessment activities” to ensure “model harmonious monasteries” as well as “patriotic, law-abiding monks and nuns”, the region’s party chief Chen Quanguo wrote in the People’s Daily newspaper.

It was not clear on what grounds the assessments would be made. China often uses terms such as “patriotic” and “harmonious” to mean allegiance to political authorities.

The drive would be aimed at making monks and nuns “feel the warmth and care of the Party and government”, Chen added.

Many Tibetans accuse the government of religious repression and eroding their culture, claims denied by Beijing, which says it has brought development to the region.

Large anti-government protests at several monasteries in 2008 led authorities in Tibetan regions to step-up a “patriotic education” campaign aimed at monks and nuns.

Tensions between Tibetans and the Chinese government continue to run high, with more than 130 members of the minority setting themselves on fire in protest since 2009.

All monasteries must be equipped with “national flags, telephone connections, newspapers and reading rooms”, Chen wrote, adding that roads to tie such facilities more closely to other parts of Tibet would also be built.

Propaganda activities aimed at leading more monks to “educate themselves in patriotism” will also be held, he said.

Chen has made hard-line comments before, including a 2013 vow to ensure that the “voice” of spiritual leader the Dalai Lama would “not be seen or heard” anywhere in the region.

The Nobel laureate has lived in exile since he fled in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule.

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