By Tenzin Monlam
monks protest in Tibet in 2008/file
DHARAMSHALA, November 27: The local government of Nangchen County in Qinghai Province on Wednesday announced that they were going to deploy 13 officials from local government and public institutions in Tibetan monasteries ‘to guard against continued overseas influence of separatism on monks’ in the province.
"Education can ensure that monks and nuns do not participate in activities to split the country and disrupt social order," Dorje, Director of the Publicity Department of the Nangchen County Party Committee, told the Global Times.
“This is part of the province's program to assist monks' welfare and educate them on the negative influence of separatist ideas.”
Lian Xiangmin, an expert at the China Tibetology Research Center said that most of the monks are law-abiding but that some may be used by ‘hostile foreign forces’ such as the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing refer to as ‘separatist’.
The appointment of the new officials comes with conditions that the candidates must be ‘clearly against separatism’ and ‘should have a good understanding of China's ethical and religious policies’.
With 78 officials selected in Nangchen in 2013 to oversee the monasteries’ activities, Jiang Shuwei, Vice-Director of the United Front Work Department of the County Committee said, "The 13 candidates will fill the vacancies of previously-selected officials who were too busy to handle the job or had retired this year."
However, exile Tibetans say such step can best be described as being similar to the infamous ‘Patriotic education campaign’ and the 'Strike hard campaign', which China employs to ensure loyalty towards the Chinese Communist Party.
“China see His Holiness the Dalai Lama as the core of separatism. Despite various attempts to subdue it, they find monks holding a strong and undying faith in him. Seeing the faith as a threat to their stability, they are carrying out such steps to destroy it through such methods,” said Tenzin Nyinjey, Senior Research Officer at TCHRD.
It is also seen as a strategy by the authorities to subdue the monks since most of protests against the establishment stem from monastic setups. With 97 percent of the County’s population being Tibetan and 103 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and religious facilities all over the county, Chinese authorities see a high probability of such occurrences.
In 2012, China introduced a system under ‘Democratic Management Committee’ that placed almost every monastery in Tibet under the direct rule of government officials who will be permanently stationed in each religious institution.