A recent report by the International Campaign for Tibet has stated that Tibetan Buddhism is facing the worst threat right now due to the new measures of surveillance and control imposed by the Chinese Communist Party, threatening to turn the Tibetan Buddhist monastic community into a tool of the Xi Jinping-led government.
“After more than 60 years of China’s brutal, authoritarian rule in Tibet, our new report shows that Tibetan Buddhism is facing some of the gravest threats yet to its survival,” the rights group said.
“We hope that ‘Party Above Buddhism’ shines a light on China’s new efforts to bend this beautiful faith to the twisted purposes of the Chinese Communist Party. We also urge the international community once again to speak up for the religious freedom of the Tibetan people,” it added.
The report, released on Wednesday, documents policy and institutional changes that force monks and nuns to serve the interests of the Communist Party.
“For decades, Tibetan monks and nuns have borne the brunt of the Chinese Communist Party’s targeted security and religious policies. Implementation of pervasive securitization policies has led the monastic community to persistently resist the authorities, who in turn have led even harder repression in the name of maintaining ‘stability and public order’,” the report read.
“Under current Chinese President Xi Jinping, the repression of the monastic community has escalated even further. With the dramatic securitization of Tibet during the reign of Chen Quanguo, party secretary of the TAR from 2011-16, the current focus is on ideological control and transformation to support the Chinese state,” the report added.
Xi’s drive to “Sinicize” (meaning to bring under state control) all religions in China “in order to contribute to the realization of the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation” is not an “empty threat”, it pointed out.
The sinicization of religions as an official policy was first initiated during a Central United Front Work conference in mid-2015, reaffirmed during the National Religious Work Conference in April 2016 and finally publicly declared at the 19th Party Congress in 2017.
The report stated that to achieve the goal, Xi Jinping made structural changes in the party-state system by putting the United Front Work Department (UFWD) in charge of overseeing the implementation of religious policy.
“The report argues that these developments represent a further, even more, imminent threat to the survival of authentic and self-determined Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan culture,” the report read.