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Chen announces incorporation of monks into China’s welfare benefits system

December 19, 2011

Chen Quanguo, the recently appointed TAR Party Secretary, was reported on November 13 to have announced government plans to offer pensions, health insurance and other welfare benefits to monks in the TAR. ("Government to bankroll pension and medicare in Tibetan temples,” Global Times, November 13, 2011.)

The move was reported at face value by some Western media (for instance on BBC radio news). But it is not known whether Chen’s announcement was made out of political expediency, or whether it is simply bringing Tibetans in line with pension and welfare reforms that are ongoing across the PRC. Consequent reporting of the measures in the official Chinese language media stated that while all monks and nuns would be eligible to join the system on a voluntary basis, those monks and nuns who excelled in ‘patriotic education’ would receive supplements from the government towards their fees. (In Chinese: “Wu Yingjie at autonomous regional “Interim measures for the participation of monks and nuns at monasteries in social security” requests at consultation forum,” Tibet Daily, November 23, 2011,http://epaper.chinatibetnews.com/xzrb/html/2011-11/23/content_310836.htm.)

In an indication that the move may be designed to improve relationships with officials and the authorities in what has been a tense political climate since March, 2008, Chen Guanguo described the news as “a move to boost national unity along with regional development and stability” in the Global Times article.  

Some analysts fear that the move may be designed to further erode the autonomy of monasteries in Tibetan areas through establishing a further layer of state bureaucracy.

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Links:
[1] http://www.savetibet.org/media-center/tibet-news/china-fewer-tibetans-lhasas-key-ruling-body-lowest-representation-since-1966
[2] http://www.savetibet.org/media-center/ict-news-reports/tibetan-protests-continue-and-spread-further-official-and-estimated-detentions-surpass-200
[3] http://www.savetibet.org/documents/pdfs/Tibet_at_a_Turning _Point.pdf
[4] http://www.mps.gov.cn/n16/n1237/n1342/n803680/3031091.html
[5] http://www.neurope.eu/article/eu-criticism-china-dismissed-beijing
[6] http://www.highpeakspureearth.com/2011/12/lhasa-lhasa-by-woeser.html
[7] http://www.globaltimes.cn/NEWS/tabid/99/ID/683636/Govt-to-bankroll-pension-and-medicare-in-Tibetan-temples.aspx
[8] http://epaper.chinatibetnews.com/xzrb/html/2011-11/23/content_310836.htm
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