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China to train cadre of Tibetan monks to counter Dalai

November 24, 2008

Times of India
November 18, 2008

BEIJING -- The Chinese government is setting up the first-ever
academy of Tibetan Buddhism in the Tibet autonomous region in south
western China. Construction on the $11.7 million project began on
Saturday. The project located near Lhasa is being fully funded by the
Central government in Beijing.

The academy will train "patriotic and devotional religious personnel"
with strong religious accomplishments and moral character, a senior
government official said.

This is seen by government critics as an attempt to build an
officially approved cadre of monks in order to dilute the influence
of defiant monks in Tibet, some of whom have faith in the Dalai Lama.

The academy will conduct research on Tibetan Buddhism besides acting
as a bridge for exchange of ideas on religious practices with the
world outside the secluded province of Tibet, official sources said.

Chinese government critics saw in this move an attempt by the
Communist Party to reinforce its belief that Tibetan Buddhism with
its many variations is independent of the Dalai Lama. The party
regards the Dalai Lama as a politician, who is set to damage Tibetan culture.

"Dalai Lama and his clique and the anti-China forces in the West
conspire to force the Tibetan ethnic group and its culture to
stagnate and remain in a state similar to the Middle Ages," the
government said in a recent White Paper on Tibet.

The Communist Party has all along emphasised the need for religious
personnel including Tibetan monks and Christian priests to adopt the
spirit of patriotism, which is regarded as a more important virtue
than their spiritual accomplishments.

There are several research facilities on Tibetan Buddhism in
different parts of China including Beijing but this is the first
project of its kind on the land of its origin.

The government White Paper also said: "The Tibetan people have
developed their culture by means of interaction ad fusion with other
cultures, especially that of the Han people".

Human Rights groups have for long accused Chinese leaders of changing
the demographic and cultural landscape of Tibet by pushing in vast
numbers of Han Chinese people from mainland China.

The academy is being set up in Nyetang Town, Quxu County near the
Tibetan capital of Lhasa in an area of 17.4 hectares. The first phase
of construction is scheduled for completion in 2010. Its design
includes a library and buildings for religious activities.

"This will be the first comprehensive and high-level Tibetan Buddhism
academy in Tibet," the official media quoted Lobsang Gyaincain, head
of the United Front Work Department of the Tibet committee of the
Communist Party of China as saying. "The academy will contribute a
lot to conducting Buddhist studies and exchanges with the outside world."

Besides religious theories, students at the academy will also be
taught knowledge of other disciplines such as politics and sociology.

Government sources said that an amount of $100 million has been spent
by the central and local governments for the preservation and
maintenance of monasteries and cultural relics in Tibet since 1980.
The academy is the largest investment on this score by the central
government in Tibet.

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