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Special> Lhasa> Opinion
UPDATED: April 30, 2008  
Commentary: Tibet Issue Is Not About Religion
The essence of the Tibet issue was a scheme for "Tibet independence" and this couldn't be disguised as a religious problem

The People's Daily newspaper on Tuesday posted a commentary saying the Tibet issue was not a religious issue.

The Dalai clique called for the international community's concern for the Tibet issue, claiming Tibetans lacked religious freedom, the commentary said.

However, the Dalai clique's accusation against China contradicts the facts, the commentary quoted Narasimhan Ram, editor-in-chief of the Hindu Newspaper Group, as saying.

It said the living Buddha reincarnation, various ritual ceremonies and resumption of academic degrees of monks showed that religious activities in Tibet were normal.

Currently, Tibet has over 1,700 monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism, 46,000 monks and nuns, four mosques and one Catholic church, the commentary said, stressing all religious activities go on smoothly in Tibet.

On average, there was one religious venue for every 1,600 Tibetans, but only one church for every 3,125 people in England, it said.

In recent years, many learned monks won Gexe Lharampa, the highest academic degree of the four ranks in the Gexe system, from the yellow sect, or the Gelugba school of Tibetan Buddhism, annually.

The commentary also said common followers have religious freedom. Sutra streamers, prayer wheels and other religious instruments are ubiquitous in Tibet.

Most followers have built scripture chambers in their own houses and over 1 million Tibetans went to Lhasa to pay homage to Buddha.

The Chinese government has allocated more than 700 million yuan (about $100 million) since 1980 to maintain 1,400 monasteries and cultural relics. The Potala Palace, Norbu Linkag and the Sakya Monastery were renovated with central government funding.

The central government has also made efforts to collect and publish Tibetan Buddhism classics, including the Tibetan Tripitaka.

Many Tibetan traditional festivals have been preserved, including Spring Festival according to the Tibetan Calendar, and Shoton (Yogurt) Festival.

The commentary said the government respected and protected the religious freedom in conformity with the law.

Nowadays, religious freedom is the basic right of Chinese citizens. In addition, the legitimate rights of religious staff and followers are protected by law.

In the dark ages, only Tibetan Buddhism could be followed but nowadays religion in the autonomous region had developed with time. With Tibetan Buddhism dominating, more religions have been introduced to this area, including Muslim and Catholicism with 3,000 and 700 followers, respectively.

The above facts have showed explicitly the Tibet issue was not about religion but only a card played by the Dalai clique to woo sympathy from others, the commentary said.

The essence of the Tibet issue was a scheme for "Tibet independence" and this couldn't be disguised as a religious problem, it stressed.

(China Daily/Xinhua April 29, 2008)

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