Communist Party official known for virulent attacks on Dalai Lama comes under unprecedented criticism

  • A senior Communist Party official known for his hardline stance against the Dalai Lama has come under unprecedented criticism on social media in the PRC in a row over fake Buddhist lamas.
  • Zhu Weiqun, former executive vice minister of the powerful United Front Work Department, who recently accused the Dalai Lama of being a sympathizer of ISIS [Daesh], has been the target of rare criticism for his statements on Tibet by a respected Tibetan scholar at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Chinese and Tibetan netizens.
  • The developments emerge in a charged political environment in which the Chinese authorities have accused Nobel Peace Prize Laureate the Dalai Lama of adopting “violent terror methods” and amid intensified efforts by the CCP to assert control over his reincarnation and Tibetan Buddhist practice. The criticism of Zhu reveals profound disquiet over Chinese policy on Tibet and for the survival of Tibetan Buddhist religion.

The criticism followed an interview with Zhu Weiqun regarding a controversy over fake reincarnate lamas (tulkus), known as ‘Living Buddhas’ (huofo, 活佛) in Chinese. Just as there are increasing numbers of sincere Chinese Buddhist practitioners who follow genuine Tibetan lamas, there are also a number of fake ‘Living Buddhas’ who seek to exploit followers. Earlier this month, a self-proclaimed ‘Living Buddha’ in Hong Kong – whose filmed ordination of a Chinese actor Zhang Tielin went viral – issued an apology and resigned from all his posts after a Tibetan monastery denied certifying him.[1] The Dalai Lama has on numerous occasions expressed concern about the number of fake lamas and the risks of exploitation of their followers.

In a Chinese television appearance, Zhu Weiqun avoided criticizing this particular case of a fake ‘Living Buddha’ and said instead that some fake lamas have posed threats to national security, as they use money they collect to sponsor illegal or ‘separatist’ activities in Tibet.

Zhu Weiqun, who heads an ethnic and religious affairs body in Beijing, was previously involved in talks with the Dalai Lama’s envoys before the dialogue ended in 2010 and has become one of the most quoted critics of the Dalai Lama in state media coverage. He was cited by the Global Times earlier this month as saying that: “The Dalai Lama, deep down, sympathizes or approves of ISIS”,[2] and that the Dalai Lama’s reincarnation is “an important manifestation of the Central Government’s exercise of sovereignty over Tibet.”[3]

Jamphel Gyatso, a respected senior scholar who was among the older generation of Tibetans who first worked with the Communist authorities in the 1950s, made a scathing public critique of Zhu, saying that instead of challenging the fake ‘Living Buddha’ in Hong Kong, he had instead ‘slandered, framed and attacked’ ‘Tibetan compatriots and Tibetan lamas’. A full translation of Jamphel Gyatso’s article is translated into English by ICT and included below.

Specific accusations against senior Party officials are rarely expressed in public unless those officials are already under suspicion by the CCP authorities.

Jamphel Gyatso also criticises Ye Xiaowen, the former Director of the State Administration for Religious Affairs, who was in charge at the time that China introduced new legislation stating that ‘Living Buddhas’ must have government approval and are illegal if they do not. The articulation of the measures in such detail indicated a more aggressive and consistent approach towards controlling the selection, installation and education of reincarnate lamas and ensuring the dominance of the CCP over Tibetan Buddhism.[4]

This is clearly linked to controlling the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama, as Zhu Weiqun has consistently reiterated. In recent comments to Global Times, he said: “Whoever has the name of Dalai Lama will control political power in Tibet. For this reason, since historical times, the central government has never given up, and will never give up, the right to decide the reincarnation affairs of the Dalai Lama.” In a reference to the promotion of atheism by the CCP, he added: “It is not only necessary, but is in line with jurisprudence, and has nothing to do with whether the rulers believe in religion or not.”[5]

Jamphel Gyatso, a respected Tibetologist who claims to have once translated for Mao Zedong and other Party officials as well as for the 10th Panchen Lama in the early years of the Chinese takeover of Tibet, wrote: “As soon as something happens in Tibet and other Tibetan areas, Ye Xiaowen and Zhu Weiqun connect it with ‘splittism’, then later add their ‘righteous’ criticism and become heroes of ‘anti-splittism’. Some cadres and masses have long felt resentful at such methods, and criticize them by saying, ‘Anti-splittism is a basket into which every problem is stuffed’.” Jamphel Gyatso also goes as far as to say: “If Comrade Zhu Weiqun just made it all up [about the connection of fake lamas and splittism], if it’s all just malicious rumours and spiteful slurs against good people, then he has committed the crimes of defamation and false accusation, and he must assume legal responsibility.” (The full translation appears below).

There has been an outpouring of support for Jamphel Gyatso’s comments by netizens in postings monitored by ICT since the article was published online, revealing scarcely-veiled anger and resentment towards Party policy on Tibet, the CCP position on the Dalai Lama and fears for the future of Tibetan Buddhist institutions and practice. Directing comments at Zhu Weiqun, one netizen wrote in Chinese (translated into English by ICT): “Do not manipulate the struggle against ‘Tibetan separatists’ and transform it into a struggle against the Tibetan people! This in itself is the worst separatism.” Another posting read: “These hypocritical Chinese individuals such as Ye Xiaowen are the real culprits; always hiding behind the wall while declaiming about national confrontation and conflict. This cold-blooded group is promoting [the Chinese government’s] policies without considering the well-being of people on the ground”.

A further post read: “Zhu Weiqun should stop his provocative comments on behalf of the Central Party government. On the issues of ethnicity and religion, he always takes an ultra-leftist standpoint and incites serious problems; have we not had enough yet?” A Chinese Buddhist posted: “I am a Han Chinese man, but I fully agree and support argument of Jamphel Gyatso with regard to Zhu Weiqun’s misbehavior. I am a student of the Kagyu tradition [one of the four schools] of Tibetan Buddhism. I wish that the respected teacher, Jamphel Gyatso, will remain very healthy and happy”. Another netizen also referred to Jamphel Gyatso’s distinguished background as a senior Party cadre and “outstanding Tibetan theorist” with a broad and deep understanding of the issue. Some of the netizens put names to their comments, including a scholar, Thubten Phuntsok, a professor in Chengdu, who also expressed concern about Zhu Weiqun’s standpoint.[6]

Zhu Weiqun’s comments are consistent with an increasingly aggressive position demonstrated by the Chinese authorities towards the Dalai Lama. In response to a major investigation by Reuters published this week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said that “The 14th Dalai Lama has in recent years used all sorts of means, including violent terror methods, to force certain people to abandon their religious belief.” The Reuters article, which concluded that an anti-Dalai Lama Buddhist group receives clandestine support from the CCP, named Zhu Weiqun as one of the key United Front officials directing the Shugden movement’s anti-Dalai Lama activities in recent years.[7]

Official document underlines Party authority over reincarnation

An official document issued by the Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Nationalities and Religious Affairs Committee, obtained by ICT, sought to distance itself from the issue of the fake ‘Living Buddha’ in Hong Kong and to assert the CCP’s dominance over religious affairs. Baima Aose (Pema Woeser) had said he became a Rinpoche after he was ordained by a religious leader at Kathog Monastery in Kardze. The internal document, issued on December 6, denies this, stating that Baima Aose was never recognized as a Living Buddha by religious authorities in Kardze (Chinese: Ganzi) as he had claimed.

The official document underlines the importance of Party state regulations on the reincarnation of Tibetan lamas, stating: “This issue of Living Buddha reincarnation is key to the healthy continuation of Tibetan Buddhism, for which the State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 ‘Tibetan Buddhism Living Buddha Reincarnation Management Measures’ must be strictly implemented.”

The so-called Order No. 5 regulates precisely whether and when a search for a new reincarnation is allowed and prescribes the way the reincarnation is to be identified and acknowledged. The State Administration for Religious Affairs, formerly headed by Ye Xiaowen – criticized this week by the netizens – also keeps a register of all those who are allowed to reincarnate themselves after death, and those who are not registered are not permitted to reincarnate themselves. Zhu Weiqun announced this month that information from a database of Rinpoches recognized by the Party state would be published online.[8]

As a further element of the Party’s efforts to assert its dominance, the authorities influence the education of young reincarnate lamas. “Patriotism to China and loyalty to the Communist Party are regarded as absolutely essential,” writes Peter Schwieger, an expert in the political history of reincarnation in Tibet. “The unbroken authority of the tulkus for the Tibetan population can in this way be turned into a tool to legitimize Chinese politics in Tibet.”[9]

These systematic attempts to replace loyalty to the Dalai Lama among Tibetans with allegiance to the Chinese Party-state, and in doing so, to undermine Tibetan national identity at its roots, have intensified distress in Tibet. There is likely to be a direct correlation between the wave of more than 140 self-immolations in Tibet since 2009 and the vitriolic political campaign against the Dalai Lama together with the aggressive expansion of legal measures tightening state control over Tibetan religion and culture.

The Dalai Lama’s formal position on the matter of his reincarnation is clear; in 2011 he issued an authoritative statement in which he said that he will make a decision on the future of the Dalai Lama lineage in around 2024 after consulting with other high lamas and the Tibetan public. Detailing how this would be carried out, he said: “Apart from the reincarnation recognized through such legitimate methods, no recognition or acceptance should be given to a candidate chosen for political ends by anyone, including those in the People’s Republic of China.”[10]

During teachings in India yesterday (December 21), the Dalai Lama noted that he was serious about the possibility of a female Dalai Lama as his reincarnation while reiterating that Beijing does not have any authority in choosing his successor.

According to Tibetan media reporting from Bylakuppe Tibetan settlement in South India, the Dalai Lama said that historically Chinese emperors had shared a special bond with Tibetans: “They had certain influence in choosing lamas in Tibet since they were Buddhist themselves and believed in reincarnations. However, the present atheist government, unlike their previous generation [of believers], has no right to interfere with the Buddhist reincarnations.”

The Dalai Lama added that if Beijing were to truly endorse reincarnation, it would “search for the reincarnations of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.”[11] 




Translations

Comrade Zhu Weiqun should clarify his words – a comment on Comrade Zhu Weiqun’s conversation with a CCTV journalist

Dated December 13, 2015, posted online. Translated from the Chinese by ICT

By: Jamphel Gyatso

On 5 December 2015 while being interviewed by a CCTV journalist, Comrade Zhu Weiqun expressed an opinion on the Zhang Tielin “enthronement” affair, which was then widely reported in the mainstream media under the headline, “Chairman of the CPPCC Nationalities and Religion Committee: the phenomenon of fake Living Buddhas is a possible threat to national security”.

Comrade Zhu Weiqun seems to have something he cannot bring himself to discuss.

Comrade Zhu Weiqun has always been plainspoken on the Tibet issue, for which he is known for his clear-cut attitude, tough stance and harsh words. But as for saying right or wrong, reasonable or unreasonable, true or not true, Zhu Weiqun does not talk of this; this is another problem area which shall not be discussed here. What I want to say here is that no matter what, in the past when discussing the Tibet issue and nationality and religion issues, Comrade Zhu Weiqun has always been able to speak clearly and to succinctly express his opinions. But this time it was completely different: he was stammering, hesitant, evasive, ambiguous and vague, as though he had something he could not bring himself to discuss, as though he was trying to hide something.

Comrade Zhu Weiqun is shirking his responsibilities

According to the CCTV report, Comrade Zhu Weiqun pointed out: “Ever since reform and opening up, there has been more and more interaction between Tibetan regions and the interior, and originally this was a good thing, but some people are using this as an opportunity to pose as Living Buddhas and go to the eastern regions to carry out swindles. This not only sullies the good name of Tibetan Buddhism and brings far-ranging harm to the pure solemnity of Tibetan Buddhism, it also impacts upon social order and the unity of the nationalities.”

The first thing we should point out is that Comrade Zhu Weiqun is the long-serving Executive Deputy Director of the Central United Front Work Department, a ministerial-level cadre in charge of nationalities and religion work and in charge of Tibet work, and who has also served as the Executive Vice President and Private Secretary of the China Association for the Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture. He is currently a CPPCC Standing Committee member and Chairman of the Nationalities and Religion Committee. As the leader responsible for the departments in charge, responsibility weighs heavy on his shoulders – he is not a news journalist (although he actually was once a journalist, but that is another matter). “Some people are using this as an opportunity to pose as Living Buddhas and go to the eastern regions to carry out swindles. This not only sullies the good name of Tibetan Buddhism and brings far-ranging harm to the pure solemnity of Tibetan Buddhism, it also impacts upon social order and the unity of the nationalities.”

Since the situation is so serious, we have reason to ask questions of Comrade Zhu Weiqun:

First: This situation did not come into being over a day or two, and as the long-term leader responsible for the departments in charge, what responsibility should you bear? Is it that you are not responsible, that you did not act, that you failed in your work or were derelict in your duty? Or is it that you’re in cahoots and complicit with those who “pose as Living Buddhas and go to the eastern regions to carry out swindles”? As a member of the Communist Party and as a senior Party cadre, you should report clearly to the Party organizations. The cadres and broad masses are owed an explanation.

Second: “Some people are using this opportunity to pose as Living Buddhas”, etcetera etcetera. “Some people” is what people? Are you being specific? Or just inventive? Status such as yours, a position such as yours, appearing on such state media as CCTV and on such a major issue as this, you must speak clearly and plainly, say what is what, black is black, white is white. You must not be evasive and vague.

Comrade Zhu Weiqun is alarmist, trying to divert attention

Comrade Zhu Weiqun also said, “After taking some of their assets back into Tibetan areas, they in fact continue to engage in various kinds of actions that contravene the law, even using some of the money to support splittist activities.”

This passage is extremely important. When reporting Zhu Weiqun’s words, all of the media put this statement of his in bold to make points like:

“According to CCTV reports, with society facing a flood of fake Living Buddhas, illegal apprentices of high lamas and scriptural preaching, National CPPCC Nationalities and Religion Committee Chairman Zhu Weiqun yesterday declared in an interview that such phenomena could endanger state security.”

The issue became grave, its nature changed. “Supporting splittist activities,” “endangering state security.”

Whether some people are posing as Living Buddhas or some people are “real Living Buddhas” bearing a “Living Buddha Permit” issued by Ye Xiaowen, if they are “cheating money and cheating favour” as Comrade Zhu Weiqun said, then under normal conditions this would be a question of morality. And if the situation wasn’t serious then there would be no need to involve the law and it’d be a matter of remonstration and education. During his lifetime, Chairman Mao would earnestly warn the Party and the nation’s people that there should be a strict distinction between contradictions of two different natures. The actions of “Living Buddhas” who cheat money and cheat favour are extremely hateful and have serious consequences. But under most conditions this is basically a contradiction within the people for remonstration and education, and a matter of strengthening management in accordance with laws and regulations.

But what if it is as Comrade Zhu Weiqun says: “After taking some of their assets back into Tibetan areas, they in fact continue to engage in various kinds of actions that contravene the law, even using some of the money to support splittist activities.”

Suppose that this is so, “to support splittist activities”, violating state security laws and “endangering state security”. That is breaking the law, it is a contradiction between ourselves and the enemy, a criminal act which must be struck hard and struck with resolution and without any mercy.

And who are the “they” of whom Comrade Zhu Weiqun spoke? He must be clear on this. On this point, he cannot be ambiguous.

If there is a definite person and crime, they must be thoroughly exposed and resolutely struck against. You, Zhu Weiqun, have that responsibility to “thoroughly expose and resolutely strike against”. Otherwise, you are guilty of dereliction of duty and malfeasance.

If Comrade Zhu Weiqun just made it all up, if it’s all just malicious rumours and spiteful slurs against good people, then he has committed the crimes of defamation and false accusation, and he must assume legal responsibility.

When handling the current chaos of false “Living Buddhas”, the lessons of historical experience must be drawn upon and the teachings of Chairman Mao borne in mind. There must be a strict distinction between contradictions of two different natures which must be rigorously managed and correctly guided without exaggerating the issues and taking them from one extreme to another.

Under the current situation there is a problem to which everyone must pay close attention. The erroneous ways of such fake “Living Buddhas” as Wu Darong and Zhang Tielin have quite naturally given rise to strong indignation and fierce criticism among the broad believing masses, which is completely understandable and timely. But such criticism must not inflate or become absolute, and even more it cannot become emotional. Just as Comrade Zhu Weiqun said, “Ever since reform and opening up, there has been more and more interaction between Tibetan regions and the interior”, and there are more and more people who love Tibetan culture and who love and believe in Tibetan Buddhism, and more and more people who are concerned for and who protect the environment in Tibet and in Tibetan regions, and more and more people traveling to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau – the world’s greatest and most holy pure land. “He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man,[i] and pity the man who has not been to Tibet” is already in fashionable usage. The vast and magnificent Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is a place to where many people travel. The Land of Snows has opened her broad heart and the good and honest Tibetan people have warmly welcomed their compatriot brothers of all nationalities. Such a situation as this is joyous, and by means of contact, exchange and blending between compatriots of all nationalities the traditional friendship between the two brother nationalities of Han and Tibetans can be promoted and strengthened; the cohesiveness, solidarity and affinities of the Motherland are strengthened, and the unification of the Motherland is further upheld and the unity of the nationalities is further strengthened. This is the bigger picture, the overall trend, and we absolutely cannot allow this great developing tide to be affected by an extremely small minority of fake “Living Buddhas” who cheat money and cheat favour and commit other bad deeds, or who adversely affect the transmission of Tibetan culture including Tibetan Buddhism in the interior. It must not affect the traditional friendship and intimate bond between Han and Tibetan fraternal nationalities, and even more importantly, it cannot be allowed to create opposition, contradictions and estrangement between the Han and Tibetan believing masses.

Comrade Zhu Weiqun has ulterior motives and harbours ill intent

During his lifetime, Chairman Mao instructed the Party: specific analysis of specific problems is the living soul of Marxism.

When interviewing Zhu Weiqun, the interviewer went from Zhang Tielin’s “enthronement” to the matter of the fake “Living Buddha”. The “news story” had just broken, there were objective facts, there was a specific locale, and there was clear directivity: the fake “His Holinesses” Wu Darong and the fake “Living Buddha” Zhang Tielin. However, throughout the entire conversation Zhu Weiqun never even mentioned the problems of Wu Darong and Zhang Tielin, instead changing the subject and turning it back to Tibetan areas and back to Tibetan lamas, and talking of “as soon as they get back to Tibetan areas” it’s like this and like that, turning criticism onto Tibetan areas instead, onto Tibetan lamas and onto Tibetan compatriots. Three birds with one stone: he slandered, framed and attacked Tibetan compatriots while the fake “His Holiness” and fake “Living Buddha” Wu Darong and Zhang Tielin were sheltered, at the same time as shirking his own responsibility and completely concealing his own tawdry connections with this fake “His Holiness” and fake “Living Buddha”. Confronting the grim situation of such serious problems as “supporting splittist activities” and “endangering state security”, swindling money and favour are minor problems that can be ignored and not pursued. And the illegal actions of the “politically correct” fake “His Holiness” and fake “Living Buddha” Wu Darong and Zhang Tielin can be hidden away.

As soon as something happens in Tibet and other Tibetan areas, Ye Xiowen and Zhu Weiqun connect it with “splittism”, then later add their “righteous” criticism and become heroes of “anti-splittism”. Some cadres and masses have long felt resentful at such methods, and criticize them by saying, “Anti-splittism is a basket into which every problem is stuffed”.

Zhu Weiqun tried that again this time, holding high a huge “anti-splittism” basket.

The “enthronement” farce played out by Wu Darong and Zhang Tielin caused a great deal of resentment among the broad masses, who offered pointed criticism and labeled them as a fake “His Holiness” and a fake “Living Buddha” who are sullying the purity of Tibetan Buddhism and hurting their Tibetan compatriots’ religious feelings and their nationality’s dignity. But no one criticized them for carrying out “splittist” activities or “harming state security”. They themselves were “politically correct” and held the “enthronement ceremony” on the happy day of the 66th National Day, which showed that they “Love China and Love Hong Kong”. If only the “visionary” Zhu Weiqun with his powers of insight could have seen the nature of their “splittist” activities and how they were “harming state security”. Regrettably, Zhu Weiqun did not pursue any further investigations into the issue of Wu Darong and Zhang Tielin, and instead he turned the topic around and aimed his barbs at Tibetan regions, at Tibetan compatriots and at lamas and Living Buddhas in Tibetan areas. Under the great banner of “anti-splittism”, Wu Daming and Zhang Tieling were absolved of all responsibility.

Oh, good-hearted people, you had better be vigilant! Be careful that Zhu Weiqun doesn’t stuff you all into his great “anti-splittism” basket!

To whom is Comrade Zhu Weiqun appealing? What is he appealing?

The CCTV report said: “Zhu Weiqun is appealing for the central and eastern regions to strengthen cooperation with relevant governments in Tibetan areas, to jointly take measures to curb the phenomenon of fake Living Buddhas.”

I have to ask: to whom is Zhu Weiqun appealing? Who do you want to make do that? Who’s going to do it? The Red Cross? The Neighbourhood Affairs Office?[ii] Or the Chengguan?[iii] Would they be able to? Could they?

Are you appealing to Party Committees and governments in the “central and eastern regions and Tibetan areas”? Our Motherland is vast with one of the largest terrains in the world, and “the central and eastern regions and Tibetan areas” is almost half of China. How are you going to oversee the governments of such a huge area? Not just this: as far as I know it’s not just “the central and eastern regions”, there are many Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the northeast regions, in Inner Mongolia and in Xinjiang where tulku and lamas preach the Dharma. There are many lamas and Living Buddhas even in the capital Beijing. It says on the Internet that in Beijing’s Chaoyang District alone there are “300,000” Living Buddhas. I actually live in Chaoyang District, and there’s absolutely no way that there’s 300,000, but it’s a fact that there are still very many there.

According to Zhu Weiqun’s “appeal”, isn’t it surely that the entire country must “strengthen cooperation and jointly take measures to curb the phenomenon of fake Living Buddhas”? Does he want a mass-action Strike Hard campaign against fake “Living Buddhas” across the entire country? Does he want another “Cultural Revolution”? Is this really necessary? If it’s going to go this way, wont it harm social stability and harmony? Wont it interfere with implementation of the 18th Party Congress line?

The phenomenon of fake “Living Buddhas” was created by you, and “the central and eastern regions and Tibetan areas” along with other regions are the victims. To correct chaos, correction should begin at the source.

You have been an Executive Deputy Director the Central United Front Work Department for a long time, overseeing Tibet work and nationalities and religion work. You are currently a CPPCC Standing Committee member and Chairman of the Nationalities and Religion Committee. The CPPCC has the responsibility and right to participate in politics and to debate politics, and it has the duty and the responsibility to provide suggestions to relevant Party and state departments. Even more significantly, you are a member of the CCP Central Committee, with a responsibility and a duty to reflect conditions to the Centre and to provide early correction. What have you been up to these past few years? You are all so pampered, you high officials with huge compensations, in control of all those resources and holding on to astronomical “stability maintenance funds” and “Tibet governance funds”. To not “take measures to curb the phenomenon of face Living Buddhas” is in itself a dereliction of duty and malfeasance, and the Party and the state should hold you accountable for the crime of dereliction of duty. People of all nationalities – but first and foremost Tibetan compatriots – have the right to ask you: taxpayers of every nationality are paying with their blood and their sweat to support you, the senior cadre, and what are you doing?

Your “appeal” to the “central and eastern regions and Tibetan areas” is actually pushing responsibility for all sorts of chaos coming from the fake Living Buddhas onto every level of leader in the “central and eastern regions and Tibetan areas” and even onto the broad masses, and completely absolving yourself of all responsibility.

When did Comrade Zhu Weiqun suddenly become so modest?

The CCTV report said that Zhu Weiqun told the journalist, “As far as I know, the relevant authorities are currently further clarifying the situation with regard to legitimate Living Buddhas and Living Buddhas with a historical tradition to create a unified compilation.”

As previously mentioned, Zhu Weiqun has numerous positions and multiple identities, and he is also a CPPCC spokesperson. What he says often represents the state, represents the government and represents the responsible departments. Usually when Comrade Zhu Weiqun talks, he is very confident with a firm tone, and on the issue of Tibet it seems as though he has grasped the entire truth and has no room for doubt. What he says is the “Party and the states” policies. And this also how the media and ordinary masses perceive him.

But this time when he spoke, Zhu Weiqun was all of a sudden modest, as though he were entirely an outsider to the whole issue. First, he said, “As far as I know”, which instantly sets him aside. He has merely heard; he was not involved. And then he said, “The relevant authorities are currently further clarifying the situation with regard to legitimate Living Buddhas and Living Buddhas with a historical tradition to create a unified compilation.”

This phrase is utterly ridiculous. Who are “the relevant authorities”? Aren’t “the relevant authorities” the Central United Front Work Department where you’ve held a position for so long, the National CPPCC Nationalities and Religion Committee and the China Association for the Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture? It turns out this is an internal matter for you. The new China has been established for 66 years and the democratic reforms and religious reforms in Tibetan areas have been on-going for over 50 and close to 60 years now – more than half a century! As of now, reform and opening up has been on-going for more than 30 years! You usually love to declare: We have the biggest corps of Tibetologists in the world, we have the most web sites focused on Tibet in the world, we have the tightest organizational structures, we have the most ample research funding, and we have stability maintenance funds, and the results we attain are truly magnificent. But then these “legitimate Living Buddhas and Living Buddhas with a historical tradition” you make so much noise about, you don’t even know how many there are, and only now do you start to “further clarify the situation and create a unified compilation”. As the departments in charge and as the responsible leader, what have you been doing? Isn’t this a serious dereliction of duty and malfeasance? You haven’t even clarified such basic information as how many “true Living Buddhas” there are, so how can you effectively manage Tibetan Buddhism without grasping even the most basic information? Is this governance according to law? Is this not just a gaggle of fools talking foolish words and working foolish deeds, and is it not resulting in a mass of confusion? And how can this possibly square with Chairman Mao’s earnest instruction: “Be sure to properly conduct Tibet affairs”?

Comrade Zhu Weiqun! Please ask yourself: does what you do make you worthy of the great trust and confidence that the Party Centre has placed in you? Are you worthy of the hope and expectations of the broad masses of Tibetan compatriots and monks and nuns? You control astronomical stability maintenance funds and Tibet governance funds, and you are pampered and handsomely compensated, but are you worthy of the blood and sweat of taxpayers of all nationalities?

A word of advice to Comrade Zhu Weiqun

Comrade Zhu Weiqun: finally, I’d still like to make another point. You’re the Executive Deputy Director of the Central United Front Work Department, and the Executive Vice President and Private Secretary of the China Association for the Preservation and Development of Tibetan Culture. I am just an ordinary Director at the Association, and I’ve always had the highest respect for you and you are always friendly and polite towards me. There are no personal grudges between the two of us. If ever I have any new work I always show it to you and ask you to review it and offer guidance; and whatever study activities you organize you always invite me to participate. Every New Year, you send me a greeting card. One year, the card you sent was printed with a traditional Chinese painting by your mother, which was not only gracious but also a generous act of friendship and affection, which added greatly to the joyousness of the festival. From this I could see that you are a filial son, someone who dearly loves his mother, and that you are extremely proud of your mother who is so adoring of you and so culturally refined. I felt particularly delighted to receive the card, particularly charmed and particularly warm, and I have treasured the card ever since. You are the only person among the department’s leadership to have ever sent me a greeting card. I harbour deep feelings and I cherish friendship, and I particularly cherish the friendship between us. However, what I speak of here today is not about individual personal relationships; it relates instead to national interests and nationalities’ concerns, and I will not allow private feelings to outweigh public duty.[iv]

As a leader in the United Front Work Department and in the Association, you often ask us to provide policy suggestions. Today, may I be so presumptuous as to offer a word of advice: as someone who is responsible for Tibet work and responsible for nationalities and religion work, you must know that the Tibetan people have made glorious contributions to the creation and construction of the great family of our unified and multi-nationality Motherland, and to the protection of the Motherland’s sacred territory and upholding the unification of the Motherland and the unity of the nationalities. The old generation of proletariat revolutionaries such as Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou once gave their high approval and appraisals of these great contributions. Tibetans are also a nationality of faith. The vast majority of them are simple, honest and kind, and they have great sympathy and empathy. And at the same time, they are a very dignified nationality who have great self-esteem, self-respect and self-love. You should review the guidance of the old generation of proletariat revolutionaries such as Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou, and study and continue the outstanding traditions initiated by such comrades as Li Weihan, Wu Lanfu, Xi Zhongxun and Liu Geping [v] with their work on our Party and our nation’s united front, nationalities and religion, and treat the kind-hearted people that the Tibetan nationality are with kindness, and not hurt your Tibetan compatriots’ nationality’s feelings and nationality’s dignity. And even more, do not be prone to wielding the “anti-splittism” club in your dealings with Tibetan compatriots; do not always hold so high the great “anti-splittism” basket and try to stuff all your Tibetan compatriots inside of it.

You are filial to your mother, you deeply love your mother, and you are rightfully proud of your mother. I profoundly appreciate and deeply respect such sentiment. Similarly, the Tibetan nationality is the common mother of all of we six million Tibetan compatriots. Our great socialist Motherland is the common mother of 56 fraternal nationalities. It is unlikely that someone who do does not love their own mother could truly love their own nationality; and it is unlikely that someone who does not love their own mother and does not love their own nationality could truly love our great Motherland. Therefore, it is hoped that you will be able to understand and respect the nationality feelings and nationality dignity of the Tibetan people; and study, appreciate and become familiar with the great contributions and selfless dedication that the Tibetan people have made for the great Motherland. It is sincerely hoped that you can keep in mind the earnest teachings of the great Chairman Mao: specific analysis of specific problems is the living soul of Marxism. Whatever the problem, that is what the problem is; however big the problem is, that is how big the problem is; whatever the nature of the problem, that is the nature of the problem; whomsoever has a problem, it is their problem, and do not simply attribute all problems to the “anti-splittism” struggle, and even more importantly, do not twist the struggle of opposition to “Tibet independence” into a struggle of opposition against Tibetan compatriots.

Comrade Zhu Weiqun, you should know that to do so is itself the greatest splittism, it is to “endanger state security”, it harms Han-Tibetan unity, it harms the unity of the nationalities, and it harms stability and unity. It will be condemned by history.

Written in haste with a lack a due reticence, I beg your understanding and tolerance of my presumptuousness.

I await your critiques and corrections.

2015年12月13日于首都北京
13 December 2015, the capital, Beijing


Ganzi [Tibetan: Kardze, in Sichuan] Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture Nationalities and Religious Affairs Committee

Announcement

In recent days, video has circulated on the Internet of an “enthronement” ceremony of the actor Zhang Tielin, while Baima Ouse [Pema Woeser] has received close attention from Tibetan Buddhist circles and netizens for his participation in the “enthronement storm” in his status as a “master”. This committee therefore issues a stern announcement:

  1. Living Buddha Zhimei Xinxiong and Moza Living Buddha are Living Buddhas affiliated to Hetuo Monastery in Baiyu County in this prefecture, and Living Buddha Zhimei Xinxiong ( Dri mei shing kyong )passed away on 18 November 2012. [Katok Moktsa Rinpoche is one of the “Five golden throne holders” of the Katok Monastery lineage. He currently lives primarily in Kham, Eastern Tibet and occasionally travels to other Asian countries. Katok Moktsa Rinpoche’s younger brother is Bairo Rinpoche. His nephew is therefore the current Gyalwang Drukchen Rinpoche]
  2. It is understood that Baima Ouse was never recognized as a Living Buddha by either Living Buddha Zhimei Xinxiong ( Dri mei shing kyong or Moza (Moktsa) Living Buddha.
  3. This issue of Living Buddha reincarnation is key to the healthy continuation of Tibetan Buddhism, for which the State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No. 5 “Tibetan Buddhism Living Buddha Reincarnation Management Measures” must be strictly implemented. Reincarnate Living Buddhas must have: 1) a Living Buddha heritage system; 2) a desire by the monastery of residence and religious masses for the Living Buddha to be recognized; 3) approval formalities for the recognition of the reincarnated Living Buddha must be conducted in strict accordance with the provisions of the “Tibetan Buddhism Living Buddha Reincarnation Management Measures,” and comply with historical systems and religious practices.

Any actions of self-recognition in contravention of the “Tibetan Buddhism Living Buddha Reincarnation Management Measures” are all illegal and invalid.

This concludes the announcement.

Ganzi TAP Nationalities and Religious Affairs Committee
6 December 2015


Footnotes
[1] Global Times (Chinese state media), December 9, 2015

[2] Comments reported by the Chinese media on December 9 (2015): http://world.huanqiu.com/exclusive/2015-12/8131376.html, which also circulated widely in the global press, for instance this Washington Post comment by Emily Rauhala posted on December 9: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/12/09/a-chinese-official-said-the-dalai-lama-supports-the-islamic-state-ridiculous-and-telling/

[3] ‘Zhu Weiqun: If no approval from Central Government, 14th Dalai Lama would just be an ordinary farmer’, December 2, 2015, China Tibet Online, http://eng.tibet.cn/2010gd/xw/201512/t20151202_3986197.html

[4] ICT report, ‘New measures on reincarnation reveal Party’s objectives of political control ‘, August 15, 2007, http://www.savetibet.org/new-measures-on-reincarnation-reveal-partys-objectives-of-political-control/

[5] Global Times, November 30, 2015

[6] On QQ social media in Chinese, at: http://mp.weixin.qq.com/s?__biz=MzA5OTQwMjA4OA==&mid=401285229&idx=1&sn=9d957681defcf127d1a5d7f533e5aa63&scene=5&srcid=1221PcZXvKoOIUsNrzQnIiIk#rd

[7] ‘Official Mantra: China co-opts a Buddhist sect in global effort to smear Dalai Lama’, by David Lague, Paul Mooney and Benjamin Kang-Lim, December 21, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/china-dalailama/

[8] China Daily, December 8, 2015 http://eng.tibet.cn/2012sy/xw/201512/t20151208_3989662.html

[9] Peter Schwieger, ‘The Dalai Lama and the Emperor of China: A Political History of the Tibetan Institution of Reincarnation’, Columbia University Press, New York, 2015

[10] Statement by the Dalai Lama, September 24, 2011, http://www.dalailama.com/news/post/753-statement-of-his-holiness-the-fourteenth-dalai-lama-tenzin-gyatso-on-the-issue-of-his-reincarnation

[11] ‘I am not joking about female successor’, posted December 22, 2015, by Tenzin Monlam, http://www.phayul.com/news/article.aspx?id=36918&article=I+am+not+joking+about+female+successor%3a+Dalai+Lama

[i] “He who has never been to the Great Wall is not a true man” is a common phrase in China, and is a line from the poem “Liupan Mountain” by Mao Zedong, written in October 1934; “and pity the man who has not been to Tibet” is a current addition, according the author.

[ii] The “Neighbourhood Affairs Office” is the lowest administrative tier in the government hierarchy of the PRC.

[iii] “Chengguan” is a para-police agency generally tasked with handling minor street crime. The agency’s full name is the “City Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau”.

[iv] “I will not allow private feelings to outweigh public duty” is a famous line from the 14th century Chinese novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

[v] Li Weihan (1896-1984) was the first principal of the Central Party School from 1933 to 1935; Wu Lanfu (Mongolian name: Ulanhu) (1906-1988) was the first Chairman of the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region; Xi Zhongxun (1913-2002) is a key figure in the history of the CCP and the PRC, and he was the father of current Chinese President Xi Jinping; Liu Geping (1904-1992), a Hui Muslim, was the first Chairman of the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. All of these figures are reference by the author for their work to integrate different nationalities and religious faiths within the polity of the PRC.

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