Tuesday, August 15, 2006

 

Beijing pledges' a fight to the death' with Dalai Lama


From Jane Macartney, of The Times, in Beijing

China’s new top official in Tibet has embarked on a fierce campaign to crush loyalty to the exiled Dalai Lama and to extinguish religious beliefs among government officials.

Zhang Qingli, was appointed Communist Party secretary of the Tibetan Autonomous Region in May. An ally of Hu Jintao, China’s President, Mr Zhang, 55, has moved swiftly to tighten his grip over this deeply Buddhist region.

He was previously head of the paramilitary Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps in that mainly Muslim western region, overseeing migration of ethnic Han Chinese as well as border security.

Mr Zhang’s drive to stamp out allegiance to the Dalai Lama, who fled to India during an anti-Chinese uprising in 1959, has adopted a tone rarely seen since the mid-1990s. At the time Beijing launched a barrage of angry rhetoric against the region’s god-king and banned his photograph after he enraged China by unilaterally announcing the discovery of the reincarnation of Tibet’s second holiest monk, the Panchen Lama.

In May Mr Zhang told senior party officials in the region that they were engaged in a "fight to the death" against the Dalai Lama. Since then he has implemented several new policies to try to erode the influence of the 71-year-old monk who China’s rulers believe is waging a covert campaign to win independence for his Himalayan homeland. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,25689-2312796,00.html

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