By Tenzin Monlam
Zhang Yijiong, executive vice minister of UFWD at the press conference on the united front work and the external work of the CPC, in Beijing on Oct. 21, 2017.
DHARAMSHALA, October 21: Cautioning leaders of governments and organizations against meeting the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, China today advised them to ‘act with caution’ and ‘give full consideration to their friendship with China’.
Executive Vice-Minister Zhang Yijiong of the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the CPC Central Committee said that countries or organizations inviting the Dalai Lama, even for a non-political meeting, is a major offence to the ‘sentiment of the Chinese people’
“Some may say that the Dalai Lama is a religious figure and our officials meet with him in an unofficial and non-political capacity. But that’s not true and not right since every official, they represent the government,” Zhang said at the CPC’s press conference on the united front work and the external work in Beijing.
Despite the Dalai Lama and Central Tibetan Administration proposing the ‘Middle Way Approach’ as the solution to resolve the Tibet issue, China has always called the Dalai Lama and his supporters ‘separatists’ seeking to separate the ‘motherland.’
The Chinese leader also reminded of the ‘commitment’ to recognize China as the ‘sole legitimate government’ to represent China and that Beijing views political leaders and organizations meeting with the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader as an act of betrayal.
China has been constantly criticized for the lack of freedom of religion and its intolerance against the practice of religion including Tibetan Buddhism. The US Commission on International Religious Freedom 2017 report had designated China as a ‘country of particular concern’ with freedom of religion declining under President Xi Jinping’s rule.
The report also documented the deteriorating situation of Tibetan Buddhism, increased interference of China in it and the growing vilification of the Dalai Lama.
Despite the unprecedented demolition of Larung Gar, the Chinese minister in his response to a question over the religious freedom in Tibet said that Tibetan Buddhism is a ‘special form of religion’ that has its roots in China and called the protection of religion as the government’s duty.
However, the Dalai Lama has always maintained that the Tibetan Buddhism has its roots in the teachings of the great Indian masters and the Indians are the ‘spiritual teachers’ of Tibetans.
Zhang with a hint of caution also added that for a religion to thrive in today’s world, it needs to be in context of today’s reality, conditions and the trend of the country it is in other wise it will give rise to ‘big problems’.
“In Tibet, we are encouraging the Tibetan Buddhism to remain in Chinese orientation,” he said.