By Tenzin Sangmo
Image of Mao in Tibetan Traditional Painting. Source - ICT
DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 9: After China’s Foreign Ministry’s spokeswoman Hua Chunying stated that China resolutely opposed the Reciprocal Access of Tibet Act (RATA) Law, which she said “sent seriously wrong signals to Tibetan separatist elements”, the authorities in China have stepped up attacks on His Holiness the Dalai Lama, republishing “baseless negative articles that exposed China’s fear of the new law”, said International Campaign for Tibet (ICT).
RATA seeks to address the lack of reciprocity in US-China relations and promote access to Tibet for US officials, journalists and other citizens by denying entry to the US for Chinese officials deemed responsible for restricting access to Tibet.
In response, a “clean-up” drive to eliminate pictures of the Tibetan religious leader and replace them with pictures of Chinese President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders, was launched by local authorities in an area of eastern Tibet.
To assert the Tibetan subjugation to the image of Mao, Chinese state media announced that a huge thangka, approximately the length of a football field, of Mao Zedong has been created by a Tibetan thangka artist and the Hua Rui Thangka Art Institute in Pari (Chinese: Tianzhu), Tibetan Autonomous County in Gansu, costing more than 4 million yuan.
The thangka of Mao is an assertion of “red culture” to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China on Oct. 1. Mao presided over the invasion of Tibet in 1949-50 and crushed resistance against Chinese rule, leading to the Dalai Lama’s escape to safety in India in March 1959.
China’s official mouthpiece The Global Times
, in an article headlined “Tibet authorities lambast Dalai Lama in series of articles as the US passes Tibet Reciprocal Access bill,” referred to unusually long and baseless editorials blaming the Dalai Lama for self-immolations across Tibet, as well as widespread protests that broke out in Tibet in 2008. The Tibet Daily,
another Chinese propagandist website on Tibet, described the Dalai Lama in an editorial as “prime leader of separatist political groups pursuing ‘Tibet independence,’ the loyal tool of international anti-China forces, the root cause of social unrest in Tibet, the biggest obstacle for Tibetan Buddhism to establish normal order and a politician under the disguise of religion.”
In recent years, any expression of Tibetan identity not directly sanctioned by the state can be branded as ‘separatist’ and penalized by a prison sentence or worse. “They have been a cause of widespread anguish among Tibetans and viewed as a contributing factor in the wave of self-immolations that have taken place across Tibet since 2009,” observed ICT.