China orders all Buddhist monasteries in Tibet to fly its flag

(Photo: REUTERS / China Daily)Tibetan Buddhists and tourists view a huge Thangka, a religious silk embroidery or painting displaying a Buddha portrait, during the Shoton Festival at Zhaibung Monastery in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, August 25, 2014.

The government in Beijing has ordered all Buddhist monasteries in the restive Tibet Autonomous Region to fly China's flag as mandated by authorities.

The move is seen as a bid to stamp out separatist movements in the province.

In an article for the State-run People's Daily, local communist party boss Chen Quanguo pointed out that temples in the region ought to foster a sense of patriotism and nationalism among people, as the government seeks to build trust among monks and nuns.

Chen announced that the government will deliver more social services to "registered" monks and nuns such as their inclusion in new State pension subsidies, provisions of medical insurance policies, and free health check-ups.

"The innovation temple management system ... is so that people could feel the party and the government's care and warmth," he explained in the article.

To ensure that monks and nuns in all temples in the province are up-to-date with the developments in the country, the party has sent out televisions, radios and newspapers for the people to receive the latest information.

Chen believes that the new strategy of educating monks and nuns will encourage more "religious harmony" especially among the followers of Tibetan Buddhism in the province.

"Under the theme of legal publicity and education activities, the majority of monks and nuns [will be] more conscious of patriotism, compliance with the law and promotion of religious harmony," said the region's most senior party official.

Authorities have long considered Tibetan monasteries to be an obstacle to Beijing's control of the region, as monks and nuns lead the resistance against the communist party.

Scores of monks and nuns have self-immolated over the years to protest the oppressive rule of Beijing in the area.

At least 12 monks were arrested last month in separate raids in Sog County, a Tibentan watchdog group based in the U.K. said. Their whereabouts have yet to be located.

Late last month, a nun set herself on fire to protest the continuing exile of their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, who still wields a considerable enough influence in the region.

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