Chinese Communist party demands reforms in Tibetan monasteries

In a move that could be aimed at weeding out pro-Dalai Lama elements in the clergy, Du Qinglin, head of the United Front Work Department of the Party's Central Committee, also demanded that "greater, concerted and solid efforts" must be made to implement democratic management in the monasteries.

"Concerted and solid efforts must be made to implement democratic management in Tibetan Buddhist monasteries," Du was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency, in what appeared to be a fresh effort to strengthen government's hold on Tibet's influential religious centres in the politically sensitive Himalayan province.

"Competent Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns who are politically reliable, extraordinarily learned and widely respected should be selected to monastery management committees through thorough democratic consultation," he said.

As per the prevailing rules, the posts of all the top monks known as Lamas have to be made with the approval of the Chinese government.

Du, also vice-chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, made the remarks of sweeping changes in the powerful clergy in Tibet during a two-day conference on democratic management of Tibetan Buddhist monasteries at Xigaze in Tibet Autonomous Region, which began yesterday.

His remarks were timed even as another powerful Communist Party leader He Guoqiang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo undertook a tour of the politically sensitive province visiting the Potala Palace, which was the seat of the Dalai Lamas.

Tibet's provincial capital Lhasa witnessed large scale riots in 2008 before the Beijing Olympics in which large numbers of Tibetan mainly monks were killed.

The riots were directed against non-Tibetans in which several monks reported to have taken part. Chinese government blamed the Dalai Lama for instigating the riots, which he has denied.

Du said that in implementing monastery democratic management, the lawful rights of monasteries, orderly religious activities of monks and nuns, and normal religious practise of believers must be ensured.

Monasteries play a very vital role in Tibet where Buddhism and Monks or heads of various sects of the religion wields spiritual and political influence over the masses.

Many of the top monks of Tibet including the Dalai Lama, the spiritual head, who fled to India in 1959 were selected through the complex process when they were children and then graduated through these institutions.

The 11th Panchen Lama, Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, regarded as the second spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism sent a congratulatory message to the conference which was attended by some 150 people from Tibetan Buddhist circles and relative governmental organisations.

Panchen Lama, 20, who was appointed for the post with the approval of the Chinese government when he was six-year-old has recently made "political debut" by taking over the monastery in Xigatse in Tibet, which is historically devoted to the Panchen Lamas.

Meanwhile, He Guoqiang has appealed to people in Tibet to make continuous efforts to achieve "leapfrog development and lasting stability" in the region.

He, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks during his four-day inspection tour of Tibet that ended today.

He asked officials and people of all ethnic groups in Tibet to seize the available opportunities and to unite to promote the development and stability of the region.

During the tour, He visited communities, villages, a virgin forest in Nyingchi and the Potala Palace.

At a meeting with people from the religious circles, He encouraged the monks to promote patriotism and called on them to contribute to the prosperity and ethnic unity in Tibet, Xinhua reported.

He, in-charge of disciplinary and supervision work, also asked local disciplinary and supervision personnel to promote clean governance and to intensify the fight against corruption.

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