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New rule bans overseas role in Tibet's temples

October 14, 2010

Tibetan Review
October 11, 2010

The Chinese government on Oct 8 issued a new
document on Tibetan Buddhist temple affairs,
making it illegal for overseas individuals or
organizations to interfere in or dominate temple
affairs relating to Tibetan Buddhism, reported
China’s official Xinhua news agency Oct 9. Issued
by the State Administration for Religious Affairs
(SARA) on the Noble Peace Prize announcement day
of Oct 8, the new regulation represents a severe,
further tightening of control on religious freedom.

The new regulation, made public in a circular on
the agency's website, was cited as saying a
number of temple staff, under the influence of
overseas separatists, were engaged in activities
that could sabotage ethnic solidarity and
national unity. The circular was cited as saying
this was the reason why the administration of
Tibetan Buddhist temples should be regulated in a
more detailed way, on the basis of China's
Regulation on Religious Affairs which took effect in 2005.

The Global Times newspaper, the international
English-language edition of China’s party
mouthpiece People’s Daily, Oct 9 cited the
document as saying the feudal and religious
priority that has been abolished and affiliation
between temples must not be allowed to resume.

So phrased, the document seems to make illegal
any connections that may exist between
monasteries and temples in Tibet that have been
rebuilt over the years in exile following their
destruction during the Chinese invasion and the
Cultural Revolution (1966-76) or in today’s
period of the absence of real religious freedom there.

The heads of all the Buddhist religious sects as
well as that of the Bon religion live in exile
and China obviously wants the monasteries and
temples in Tibet to dissociate themselves from
their traditional religious orders and heads.

The report said the new measures, titled as
"Management Measures for Tibetan Buddhism," will
be implemented from Nov 1. It cited the circular
as saying SARA had started drafting the
regulation since 2008, and had "thoroughly"
solicited opinions from representatives of the
Tibetan Buddhist circle in Chinese provinces and
autonomous regions where Tibetan Buddhists inhabit.
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