ucanews.com reporter, Beijing
Updated: November 12, 2015 11:28 PM GMT
In this May 2013 photo, two monks sit on a hillside overlooking the Labrang monastery in China's Gansu province. China is training Tibetan monks and nuns in counterespionage. (Photo by Ed Jones/AFP)
China has started training Tibetan Buddhist monks and nuns in counterespionage in the latest effort by the Communist Party to manage faithful deemed a threat to state power.
Twenty-two monks and nuns were this week instructed on a vague anti-spying law passed a year ago during a three-hour session led by security officials at Lamaling Temple in Nyingchi, close to the border with India.
"Nyingchi is of special importance to anti-espionage efforts because there are many military sites," Penpa Lhamo, deputy head of the contemporary studies institute at the Tibet Academy of Sciences, told the nationalistic tabloid Global Times.
The government has this month staged an anti-spying awareness drive across Tibet, where Beijing remains concerned Westerners may be gathering intelligence designed to fuel separatism.
The CIA started a secret program in Tibet in the late 1950s that included training guerillas to fight the communists, but funding to the exiled Tibetan government under the Dalai Lama reportedly ended in 1974.
Beijing considers monks and nuns the main agitators for independent Tibet and has in recent months stepped up control and persecution at monasteries and nunneries.
More than 100 nuns were last month expelled from living quarters later demolished in Driru County, said the London-based advocacy group Free Tibet.
"Other nuns that were handed over to family members by officials in nearby townships have been forbidden from carrying out religious practices, including praying and wearing their robes," the group reported.
All Buddhist monasteries in Tibet contain a police post and, over the past year, televisions provided by authorities that show state-approved channels only. Satellite systems that showed news and views from outside, including on the Dalai Lama, were reportedly destroyed as a part of a campaign across the Himalayan region.
Images of the Tibetan spiritual leader have again been banned in recent years, and instead authorities have insisted each monastery display pictures of party leaders and China's national flag.
Tibet's second-highest spiritual leader, the Panchen Lama Gyaltsen Norbu, last month called for stricter enforcement of precepts among monks after a speech in March that appeared to go against the party line warning Tibetan Buddhism was disappearing.
….as we enter the last months of 2021, we are asking readers like you to help us keep UCA News free.
For the last 40 years, UCA News has remained the most trusted and independent Catholic news and information service from Asia. Every week, we publish nearly 100 news reports, feature stories, commentaries, podcasts and video broadcasts that are exclusive and in-depth, and developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes.
Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to – South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.
And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters who cover 23 countries in south, southeast, and east Asia. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don’t have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.
With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.