On 14th Dalai Lama And Chinese Interference

On 14th Dalai Lama And Chinese Interference

After looking at the selection process of the Dalai Lama, let us look at the current one’s life and Chinese interference in his life and Tibet.

Crux of the Matter

The Current One

  • On 6 July 1935, the 14th (current) Dalai Lama was born as Lhamo Dhondup.
  • On 22 February 1940, he was enthroned as the Dalai Lama at the age of 4 and a half and renamed Tenzin Gyatso.

Chinese Invasion

  • 1950: China invaded and annexed Tibet.
  • March 1959: Protests started against Chinese rule – thousands of protesters killed by Chinese troops.
  • April 1959: Dalai Lama escaped to India and established Tibetan Government-in-exile in Dharamshala.

Aftermath

  • 80,000+ Tibetans live in India in exile.
  • Refuge to Dalai Lama one of the reasons for the 1962 India-China war.
  • Dalai Lama has been advocated Tibetan autonomous rule within China instead of independence from it.
  • 1987: Proposed ‘5-point plan’ for establishing Tibet as a zone of peace amidst protests in Lhasa against large settlements of Han Chinese in Tibet.
  • 1989: Won Nobel Peace Prize.

Read about the winners of Nobel Prize 2020 here: Nobel Prize: What Is It & Who Are The 2020 Winners

Missing Panchen Lama

  • 1995: Gedhun Choekyi Nyima was identified as the Panchen Lama reincarnation (2nd most senior figure) by the Dalai Lama.
  • China arrested Nyima in the same year – forcibly appointed Gyaltsen Norbu as Panchen Lama afterwards.
  • Nyima was 6 years old when arrested – called by Human rights groups ‘the youngest political prisoner of the world
  • Nyima has been missing since then.

Dalai Lama-China Equation

  • Dalai Lama has had ‘on and offtalks with China in 1993, 2002, etc.
  • 2011: Chinese Government claimed that its approval is compulsory in appointing the next Dalai Lama.
  • China continues to call him “wolf in monk’s robes” and ‘separatist’.
  • Criticizes any leaders meeting him – most recently Obama in 2016.

Next Dalai Lama?
Several possibilities stated by the Dalai Lama like:

  • Dismantling of the Dalai Lama institution.
  • Appointment of reincarnation by him – would be the first such case.
  • Reincarnation outside Tibet if he himself dies outside.

Curiopedia
  • Time magazine named the Dalai Lama one of the “Children of Mahatma Gandhi” and Gandhi’s spiritual heir to nonviolence.
  • The Potala Palace is a dzong fortress in the city of Lhasa, in Tibet. It was the winter palace of the Dalai Lamas from 1649 to 1959, has been a museum since then, and has been a World Heritage Site since 1994.
  • McLeod Ganj is a suburb of Dharamshala, India. It is known as “Little Lhasa” or “Dhasa” because of its large population of Tibetans. The Tibetan government-in-exile is headquartered in McLeod Ganj.
  • The name “Dalai Lama” is a combination of the Mongolic word dalai meaning “ocean” or “big” and the Tibetan word bla-ma meaning “master, guru”. The Dalai Lama is also known in Tibetan as the Rgyal-ba (“Precious Conqueror”).

Knowing ‘Dalai Lama’ And His Selection

Knowing Dalai Lama And His Selection

With US President Trump approving measures to prevent Chinese interference in the selection of the next Dalai Lama by Tibetans, let us look at the process involved in the selection and how the current Dalai Lama was selected.

Crux of the Matter

New Law By US – For Tibet And Taiwan
US President Donald Trump has passed the Tibet Policy and Support Act. The Act passed by Trump recognizes the “absolute right” of Tibetans to choose the next Dalai Lama, and levies sanctions on Chinese interference in the process. It also demands a US consulate in Lhasa (capital of Tibet).

Who Is ‘Dalai Lama’?
All Dalai Lamas are considered ‘manifestations’ of ‘Avalokitesvara’ (bodhisattva of compassion). As per Brooke Schedneck, Assistant Professor at Rhodes College, Bodhisattvas are individuals having reached enlightenment but “choose to be reborn, to experience the pain and suffering of the world, in order to help other beings attain enlightenment”. The mentioned definition is in accordance with Tibetan Buddhism, which is mainly based on the Mahayana sect of Buddhism.

The Current Dalai Lama
The search for the 14th (current) Dalai Lama began after the 13th Dalai Lama died on 17 December 1933. Every Dalai Lama is considered the reincarnation of the previous one.

Predictions of the location and the time of rebirth of the previous Dalai Lama as the new one are based on factors like:

  • Directional position of the body of previous Dalai Lama immediately after death.
  • The direction of smoke after cremation.
  • Lhamo Latso lake – believed to provide visions of the location of rebirth.

Where Was The Current Dalai Lama Found?
The Dokham region in northeastern Tibet was matched as per the search team. Lhamo Dhondup, a 2-year-old boy, was found. He was decided as the reincarnation (and the next Dalai Lama) after several tests like identification of the previous Dalai Lama’s objects out of several objects, etc.

On 22 February 1940, Dhondup was enthroned at the age of 4 and a half and renamed Tenzin Gyatso.

To read about the Chinese interference in the selection of the Dalai Lama, stay tuned.

Curiopedia
  • Time magazine named the Dalai Lama one of the “Children of Mahatma Gandhi” and Gandhi’s spiritual heir to nonviolence.
  • The Potala Palace is a dzong fortress in the city of Lhasa, in Tibet. It was the winter palace of the Dalai Lamas from 1649 to 1959, has been a museum since then, and has been a World Heritage Site since 1994.
  • McLeod Ganj is a suburb of Dharamshala, India. It is known as “Little Lhasa” or “Dhasa” because of its large population of Tibetans. The Tibetan government-in-exile is headquartered in McLeod Ganj.
  • The name “Dalai Lama” is a combination of the Mongolic word dalai meaning “ocean” or “big” and the Tibetan word bla-ma meaning “master, guru”. The Dalai Lama is also known in Tibetan as the Rgyal-ba (“Precious Conqueror”).

US Signs Law Against Chinese Interference In Tibet And Taiwan

US Signs Law Against Chinese Interference In Tibet And Taiwan

With outgoing US President Trump approving measures to bolster the position of Tibet against China, let us look at the measures approved as well as at Taiwan, which would be another beneficiary of the move.

Crux of the Matter

New Law By US – For Tibet And Taiwan
US President Donald Trump has passed the Tibet Policy and Support Act along with the Taiwan Assurance Act.

US-Taiwan Relations Strengthened
The Taiwan Assurance Act supports the inclusion of Taiwan in the UN, WHO, and other international bodies. Currently, Taiwan is not a part of such organizations as most of them recognize mainland China as the sole representative. It also calls for “regular sales and transfers of defense articles to Taiwan in order to enhance its self-defence capabilities”.

For more details on Taiwan and China read: History of Taiwan

Relief For Lhasa
The Law passed by Trump recognizes the “absolute right” of Tibetans to choose the next Dalai Lama, and levies sanctions on Chinese interference in the process. It also demands a US consulate in Lhasa (capital of Tibet).

Backdrop
The ‘Tibet Policy and Support Act’ of the US came amidst:

  • Reports of China increasing forced labour in Tibet.
  • The imminence of ‘reincarnation’ of the Dalai Lama.
  • Continued strain in US-China relationship.

Reactions

We urge the U.S. side to stop meddling in China’s internal affairs and refrain from signing into law these negative clauses and acts, lest it further harms our further cooperation and bilateral relations.

Wang Wenbin, Spokesperson, Foreign Ministry of China

This legislation sends a powerful message of hope and justice to the Tibetans inside Tibet and bolsters US support for the protection of Tibetan people’s religious freedom, human rights, environmental rights and exile Tibetan democracy like never before.

Lobsang Sangay, President, Central Tibetan Administration in Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh

Curiopedia
  • Time magazine named the Dalai Lama one of the “Children of Mahatma Gandhi” and Gandhi’s spiritual heir to nonviolence.
  • The Potala Palace is a dzong fortress in the city of Lhasa, in Tibet. It was the winter palace of the Dalai Lamas from 1649 to 1959, has been a museum since then, and has been a World Heritage Site since 1994.
  • McLeod Ganj is a suburb of Dharamshala, India. It is known as “Little Lhasa” or “Dhasa” because of its large population of Tibetans. The Tibetan government-in-exile is headquartered in McLeod Ganj.
  • The name “Dalai Lama” is a combination of the Mongolic word dalai meaning “ocean” or “big” and the Tibetan word bla-ma meaning “master, guru”. The Dalai Lama is also known in Tibetan as the Rgyal-ba (“Precious Conqueror”).

A Short History Of Tibet

A Short History Of Tibet

As China recently stepped up its plan to shift the rural population of Tibet into industrial labour, another thread of strain was added to the relations between the two which have been in an alternating relationship with differing ideologies. Let us have a look at the history of Tibet and its relations with China.

Crux of the Matter

Recent Push Into Labour By China
China has reportedly increased the number of Tibetan rural labourers forced in military training camps, where they are trained to become factory workers. Recently, China claimed that ~500,000 people from Tibet (15% of its population) were trained from Jan to July 2020 in such camps. 50,000 of the total were sent to jobs inside Tibet while thousands were sent into labour in China.

Critics have claimed that the motive of such training camps is to eliminate the cultural influence of Tibet while indoctrinating Tibetans with Chinese ideology. These camps are compared to the detention camps in Xinjiang, where Uighur Muslims are sent to forced labour.

History Of Tibet

  • 620s AD: Songtsen Gampo became the ruler of Central Tibet. He married Princess Wencheng of the Tang dynasty (China) and founded major Buddhist temples like Jokhang and Ramoche in Tibet.
  • 820s: Peace treaty between China and Tibet was signed after a period of conflict.
  • 1042: Indian scholar Atisha travelled to Tibet and revived Buddhist teachings by inspiring the locals.
  • 1240-44: Mongol prince Godan Khan invaded Tibet, who later converted to Buddhism in 1247. Peaceful relations between Mongols and Tibetans were established, with the latter retaining significant autonomy in the Mongolian empire.
  • 1598: The title of ‘Dalai Lama’ was first given to High Lama Sonam Gyatso by Mongol King Altan Khan.
  • 1720s: Mongols invaded Tibet. In return, the Manchu (Qing) dynasty of China defeated the Mongols but then appointed its officers to administer Tibet and annexed its Kham and Amdo regions.
  • 1904: British forces from India invaded Tibet and forced to sign an agreement to prevent any Russian interference in the region. However, Britain acknowledged suzerainty of China over Tibet.
  • 1913: Tibet reaffirmed its independence from both China and Britain.
  • 1949: People’s Republic of China (PRC) was established by Communist leader Mao Zedong, who claimed Tibet as part of China.
  • 1951: Tibet was forced to sign the “Seventeen Point Agreement” by China, which granted autonomy to the former but established Chinese military quarters in the capital Lhasa.
  • 1959: The Dalai Lama was forced to take exile in India along with 80,000 followers as a revolt against Chinese rule broke out in Tibet, which was suppressed violently.
  • Refuge for Dalai Lama has been cited as one of the reasons for the 1962 Indo-China war.
  • 1963: Foreign visitors were banned in Tibet – opened back in 1971.
  • 1965: Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) was established by China.
  • 1966: The Cultural Revolution of China impacted Tibet, as Buddhist monasteries and entities were damaged.

Several talks of reconciliation have failed between the 2 groups since.

Curiopedia
  • Lhasa is a prefecture-level city, one of the main administrative divisions of the Tibet Autonomous Region of China. The population is well-served by primary schools and basic medical facilities, although more advanced facilities are lacking. Tibetan Buddhism and monastic life have been dominant aspects of the local culture since the 7th century.  
  • The Uyghurs are a Turkic-speaking minority ethnic group in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China. The Chinese government rejects the notion of the Uyghurs being an indigenous group. 
  • The Militia is the militia part of the armed forces of China, other two parts being the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and the People’s Armed Police (PAP). It is one of the largest militias in the world.