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  Opinion   Oped  13 Apr 2019  In Tibet, an atheist regime talks of reincarnation

In Tibet, an atheist regime talks of reincarnation

The writer is based in South India for the past 40 years. He writes on India, China, Tibet and Indo-French relations.
Published : Apr 13, 2019, 1:31 am IST
Updated : Apr 13, 2019, 1:31 am IST

A worse contradiction is about the position of the atheist regime on the Dalai Lama’s rebirth.

Dalai Lama (Photo: PTI)
 Dalai Lama (Photo: PTI)

China is the land of dichotomies, not to say contradictions. On March 31, 1959, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet crossed the Indo-Tibet border in the Kameng Frontier Division, north of Tawang; he met a detachment of the Assam Rifles waiting to welcome him. He had had no choice but to flee his native land, as severe repression had taken place in Lhasa.

Three days before the Tibetan leader reached the Indian border, the Communist regime declared that the “feudal lord” had left his native land; that this would allow the serfs to be emancipated. Though thousands had died in Lhasa in the process of “emancipation”, Beijing still celebrates the massacre as the “Serfs Emancipation Day”.


On March 26, the 24-year-old Tibetan leader had sent a message to Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India: “Ever since Tibet went under the control of Red China and the Tibetan government lost its powers in 1951...”

The Dalai Lama had decided to take refuge in India — a free nation.

On March 11, 2019, the Global Times affirmed: “Sixty years since the epoch-making democratic reform in Tibet, people in the plateau region have enjoyed unprecedented human rights in history.”

The tabloid of the Communist Party added: “The democratic reform in Tibet in 1959, led by the Communist Party of China, ended the cruel serfdom system and emancipated one million Tibetan serfs, or more than 90 per cent of the region’s then population.”


The article compares the massacre of the Tibetans in Lhasa in March 1959 by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to “the Abolition Movement led by former US President Abraham Lincoln, viewed as an immortal achievement for civilisation and human rights, the end of Tibet’s feudal serfdom”.

But it is not the last of the contradictions.

While proclaiming that the “Tibetan people enjoy unprecedented human rights in history”, the region has not only been closed to foreign tourists, but according to Human Rights Watch, on March 7, the Chinese authorities “staged mass rallies in Lhasa and other provincial cities”. A parade of armoured vehicles and military hardware was seen on the streets of Lhasa. Thousands of armed police and other security forces from across the region gathered to “pledge” loyalty to the party and its political objective of “comprehensive, long term stability”.


Though Beijing’s propaganda said “human rights” in Tibet have never been so good, it was announced that “24-hour patrols of some 100 police service stations in Lhasa had greatly improved the city’s peace and stability. …Not a single criminal case was reported in the palace area in the past eight years, mainly because of the police service station since 2011, which can respond to emergency calls in three minutes”.

Wang Yongpu, a police station chief working in Tibet for seven years, explained to the Global Times, “through the surveillance system, 24-hour patrols, security checks and cooperation with traffic departments, police in the service station can prevent crimes”.


The Epoch Times reported: “Having perfected facial recognition and Artificial Intelligence-enhanced surveillance systems, the Chinese regime is now applying the technology to taxis in Lhasa, the capital of Tibet.”

The US-based publication quoted a report which appeared in Tibet News on March 6: “a Chinese state-run online news site, 200 new taxis were put into operation in Lhasa in February — equipped with real-time video surveillance — before they were assigned to taxi drivers. The GPS (Global Positioning System) has been upgraded from running on 2G mobile networks to 4G to optimise real-time monitoring”.

This technology was intended to “prevent drivers from violating safety regulations such as smoking and making phones calls while driving”.


So much for human rights!

The Chinese propaganda has a tragicomic side.

The reason given for banning foreign visitors visiting Tibet was given by Wu Yingjie, Tibet’s Communist Party’s secretary during the National People’s Congress (NPC) — he said that the restrictions were necessary because some visitors suffered from altitude sickness.

Where it become more grotesque is when it comes to the Dalai Lama, China’s bête noire.

Again, according to the Global Times, during an open-door discussion with the Tibetan delegation to the 13th NPC, Wu Yingjie came down heavily on the Tibetan leader: “The Tibetan people have more affection for the government. The Dalai Lama has not done a ‘single good thing’ for Tibet since he left (in 1959).” Wu added that the people of Tibet were “extremely grateful for the prosperity that the Communist Party has brought them”.


Tashi Gyaltsen, a young Tibetan grassroots delegate from Lhoka, affirmed that “there is no such thing” as adoration for the Dalai Lama among Tibetans.

This should be easy to test — let Beijing allow the Tibetan leader to visit Tibet for one week — the adulation of the Tibetans for their spiritual guru and protector will be seen by all.

Go Khok, deputy party chief and mayor of Lhasa, however, asserted that maintaining stability would be a key task for the city government this year.

A worse contradiction is about the position of the atheist regime on the Dalai Lama’s rebirth.

The Tibetan leader jokingly told Reuters: “China considers Dalai Lama’s reincarnation as something very important. They have more concern about the next Dalai Lama than me,” before adding: “In future, in case you see two Dalai Lamas, one from here (India), a free country, (and) one chosen by the Chinese, then nobody will trust, nobody will respect (the one chosen by China). So that’s an additional problem for the Chinese! It’s possible, it can happen.”


A couple of years ago, a Chinese “expert” quoted by the Global Times, affirmed that it is so ridiculous to talk about reincarnation “when the 14th Dalai Lama is still alive.”

It is ridiculous, but Beijing has been working hard since years to put everything in place for when the day comes.

Already in 2007, the stage was set for the tragicomedy when China decided to implement the “Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism”.

Beijing had started preparing for the Lama’s succession: the Chinese government had decided to use the Manchu-favourite type of selection, the Golden Urn lottery, which can easily be manipulated.


Today, China is actively preparing for the post-Dalai Lama period.

On March 7, 2019, a panel discussion took place during the People’s Political Consultative Conference in Beijing; the Chinese-selected Panchen Lama Gyaltsen Norbu presided. Apart from the young lama considered as “fake” by the Tibetans, a few lamas, mostly unknown to the Tibetans, met to discuss the future of Buddhism; it included, Dupkang Thupten Kedup, vice-chairman of the Buddhist Association of China, Tsemonling, a former regent of Tibet in his previous reincarnation, Gomangtsang Rinpoche, Rinchen Namgyal Rinpoche, from Qinghai province and Lodro Gyatso Rinpoche from Sakya Monastery. China would like these lamas to lead the process to find the next incarnation of the Dalai Lama.


Is it not a contradiction when an atheist regime works hard on soul reincarnation? It does not seem to disturb the apparatchiks in Beijing.

Tags: dalai lama, assam rifles, abraham lincoln