A group of leading international experts on China has drawn the attention of the world community to stop Chinese President Xi Jinping from imposing a new law which is aimed at eradicating all religious faiths like Buddhism, Christianity and Islam in China.
Although the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) claims that this law, titled ‘Order-19’, is aimed at “standardising the management of places of religious activity”, but in actual practice, it is nothing short of what they termed as the ‘communitisation’ of religion. Since this law is going to severely hurt the sentiments of millions of Chinese citizens as well as those belonging to occupied and colonised countries like Tibet, East Turkistan (Xinjiang), and Southern Mongolia, the world institutions should act before it is too late.
The Centre for Himalayan Asia Studies and Engagement (CHASE) and the Tibetan Youth Congress (TYC) jointly organised the webinar. The experts who participated were Dr Chienyu Shi of Taiwan Institute for National Defence and Security Research from Taipei; Dr Chin Jin, Chairperson of Federation for a Democratic China from Sydney; Dr Enver Bughda, a prominent Uyghur activist and medical surgeon from London who exposed the ongoing racket of organ harvesting in China; and Mr Enghebatu Togochog, a Mongol writer and editor of ‘Southern Mongolia Watch” from New York.
Mr Sonam Tsering, General Secretary of TYC and Co-host of the webinar gave the vote of thanks while Prof. (Ms.) Aayushi Ketkar of the Special Centre for National Security Studies JNU handled the question-answer session. Vijay Kranti, a senior journalist, Tibetologist, and Chairman CHASE, hosted the event as moderator.
Dr Chin Jin said that ‘Order-19’, which Beijing claims to strengthen the regulation and management of religious venues, is in reality, adding further restrictions on religious freedom. He said that it is unfortunate that even some high-ranking religious leaders living in the free world, like Pope Francis of Rome and Buddhist masters from Taiwan like Hsing Yun and Master Chin Kung, willingly submitted to CCP’s dictations. “While the Pope and the two Buddhist masters asked the Catholic and Buddhist followers in China and Hong Kong to submit to the CCP, Master Chin Kung even went as far as calling Xi Jinping a ‘Bodhisattva’ incarnation,” he added.
However, sounding a note of optimism, Dr Chin Jin said, “Only when various forces and factors converge to bring about the fall of the CCP, will the restrictions and oppression on religious freedom in Tibet and other regions come to an end and disappear”, he added.
Presenting his analysis of President Xi Jinping’s policies on religion in the context of the new Chinese law under “Order-19,” Dr Chienyu Shih raised three pertinent questions. His first question was, “Is there really any space for religious freedom in China which can be or needs to be governed?” His second question was, “What do they mean by ‘Sinicising’?” And the third was “What is the strategy of Xi and other communists to make ‘Sinicisation’ of religions happen? And how much have they succeeded so far?”
Giving his own understanding of the idea of the ‘Sinicisation’ of religion in real terms is what he termed as the ‘Communistisation’ of religion. “There is no Church, meaning the ‘Church’ of any religion, in today’s China. The ultimate authority of every such institution lies in the CCP. They are focused on developing communist cadres as the religious leaders – with the final aim of developing political loyalty to the CCP among the faith holders,” he said, adding that the CCP’s policy on religion is quite simple. You have to forget whether you are a Mongol, a Tibetan or an Uyghur – not to mention the Taiwanese and Hong Kongers. No matter which ethnicity you belong to or where you come from, you have simply to go under the CCP’s rule.”
Dr Enver Bughda said, “Communism can function and gain control only in chaos. Where there is no chaos, they just create it to find a role for themselves. This is exactly what President Xi Jinping is doing in the world today. Inside China it’s a history of nothing but chaos. Now what Xi Jinping is doing with religion through various policies is to create chaos in order to control the entire religious system. Current ‘Order-19’ is a part of that game.” Underlining the CCP’s policy of keeping itself above the God he said, ”In today’s China there is no place for Allah or Jesus or Buddha at the top in one’s faith. It has to be the CCP and Xi Jinping on the top. They are worse than the Taliban in Afghanistan where they blasted a big statue of Buddha. In today’s Tibet they are destroying all big statues of Buddha.“
Dr Bughda gave an interesting example of double standards being adopted and practised by President Xi Jinping on religion. “In the beginning of ongoing Asian Games in China Xi Jinping took the visiting King and Queen of Syria to a temple for prayers. It looks absurd because the guest King and the Queen were practicing Muslims who would not pray in a temple. But the real game of Xi Jinping was to offer prayers for the safety of his own kingdom without being noticed by the communist cadres and others for going to a temple and praying.”
Striking a sad note about the situation in Southern Mongolia, which happens to be under China’s colonial occupation since 1919, Mr Enghebatu Togochog said, “In my country no religion is left which can be further destroyed by President Xi Jinping’s new law on religion. Soon after coming to power in 1949 Chairman Mao’s CCP attacked and destroyed every symbol of our Buddhist national identity. They did it because of vengeance against the Mongols who had ruled over China for many centuries. They killed and eliminated our entire class of elites to ensure that no sign of our nationality could survive. Today they are bent upon destroying or language by imposing Mandarin Chinese language at every level. Even the traditional nomad yak and goat herders have been forced to quit their lifestyle on the fake ground of protecting environment.”
In his vote of thanks as the co-host of the webinar, Sonam Tsering, the General Secretary of the Tibetan Youth Congress and a popular youth leader among the Tibetan diaspora, said that the Chinese Government has been making all efforts to erase the Tibetan national identity through destruction of institutions and re-education of monks in a communist way. They are trying to occupy the Tibetan tradition of reincarnation of senior religious leaders, including that of the Dalai Lama, which is unique in the world. “Since 2009 the TYC observes July 13 as a special day to oppose China’s interference in the reincarnation system. Such moves show the Chinese leaders’ desperation for failure to eradicate love and devotion for His Holiness the Dalai Lama from the hearts of the Tibetan people. ‘Order-19’ is just another expression of their frustration,” he said.
Vijay Kranti, a veteran Indian Tibetologist who is also the Chairman of CHASE and the host of the show, presented the Tibetan perspective on the State of religion inside Chinese-occupied Tibet. Tracing the history of Chinese policy on Tibetan Buddhism since 1951, he said that the current decision of imposing their ‘Order-19’ by the Beijing masters of Tibet is the fourth and, perhaps, the last stage of eradicating religion completely out of Tibetan people’s social, cultural and political life. He referred to the 1951-1959 era as the first stage when Mao, his PLA and CCP promised autonomy on religion and cultural matters only to back out, leading to the Tibetan uprising of 1959 against the Chinese colonial rule. In the second stage, Mao and subsequent communist leaders of China tried aggressively to destroy people’s faith in Buddha Dharma and the exiled Dalai Lama, hoping that it would force ordinary Tibetans to behave as true ‘Patriotic Chinese’.
“However, when widespread Tibetan uprisings happened in 1987 and 1989 only then Beijing’s communist leadership realised the power of religion and adopted a new strategy of occupying religion from within as their third attempt to tame the Tibetans. This stage has been especially focused on implanting CCP’s stooges as new incarnate Lamas at every possible place and increasing CCP control on all religious institutions of Tibet. It was finally the Tibetan uprising of 2008 and the emergence of Xi Jinping as the ‘Paramount Leader’ of the CCP that the fourth strategy of annihilating the Tibetan religion and national identity completely has been taken up. By snatching hundreds of thousands of Tibetan children from their parents and pushing these kids into regimented CCP residential schools they are now hoping for a new generation of Tibet which will be visually Tibetan but mentally they will be CCP’s robots. ‘Order-19’ is just the concluding part of this campaign which covers the rest of Tibetan society,” said Vijay Kranti.