By Martin Quin Pollard
LHASA, China (Reuters) – Below clear blue skies, rugged peaks and the spectacular Potala Palace, one picture is ubiquitous in Tibet’s capital metropolis Lhasa: portraits of Chinese language President Xi Jinping and fellow leaders.
In a uncommon and tightly chaperoned authorities tour of the area final week, a Reuters journalist noticed the portraits in lecture rooms, streets, non secular establishments, homes, and the bed room of a Buddhist monk.
Greater than a dozen different reporters had been additionally on the journey.
China is broadening a political schooling marketing campaign because it celebrates the seventieth anniversary of its management over Tibet.
Chinese language officers say the marketing campaign is essential to the way forward for Tibet, a area which makes up over 12% of China’s land mass however is residence to simply 3.5 million folks, largely ethnic Tibetans.
Civilians and spiritual figures who the federal government organized to be interviewed on the five-day journey pledged loyalty to the Communist Occasion and Xi.
Requested who his religious chief was, a monk at Lhasa’s historic Jokhang temple named Xi.
“I’m not drunk … I communicate freely to you,” mentioned the monk named Lhakpa, talking from a courtyard neglected by safety cameras and authorities observers.
The portraits of Xi had been seen at nearly all websites visited by Reuters throughout the journey to Tibet, the place journalists are banned from coming into exterior of such excursions. It was not clear when the posters and flags had been put up.
“The posters coincide with a large political schooling programme which is known as ‘feeling gratitude to the get together’ schooling,” mentioned Robert Barnett, a Tibetan research veteran scholar on the College of London’s Faculty of Oriental and African Research.
China’s overseas ministry mentioned: “Tibet’s financial system and society has made nice achievements below the care of China’s central authorities and the sturdy assist of each Chinese language individual.
“The best to spiritual freedom of all ethnic teams in Tibet are protected by the Structure and the legislation.”
Throughout the go to, authorities officers steered that such photographs, together with small Chinese language flags that lined many metropolis streets, had been an indication of the “patriotic feeling” in Tibet.
Beijing says it “peacefully liberated” Tibet in 1951, after Chinese language troops entered the then-country and took over its administration.
The Dalai Lama, the religious chief of Tibetan Buddhism, fled Tibet in 1959 after a failed rebellion in opposition to Chinese language rule, and has since established a authorities in exile primarily based in Dharamsala, India.
Beijing has labeled him a harmful separatist and has mentioned when he passes away the federal government will choose its personal successor.
Reuters didn’t see any photographs of the Dalai Lama, beforehand widespread in properties all through Tibet, on the journey from Might 31 to June 5.
Pictures of the religious chief are actually strictly banned, based on rights teams and Tibetans who’ve since left the area.
The overseas ministry repeated China’s place that the Dalai Lama was “trying to separate Tibet from China.”
“Since Dalai defected, he has not executed something good for the Tibetan folks,” mentioned Fan Chunwen, the secretary for Tibet’s Division of Schooling.
In Tibet’s School of Buddhism, a serious non secular coaching faculty on the outskirts of Lhasa, Chinese language flags flew atop temples and pictures of Xi featured prominently in each dorm and classroom visited by Reuters.
“We’re below the management of the Communist Occasion now, in fact, we should study politics,” mentioned Kelsang Wandui, vice director of the faculty.
Round 40% of the college’s research program was devoted to political and cultural schooling, Wandui mentioned, including the monks will rejoice the upcoming one hundredth anniversary of the Communist Occasion on July 1.
The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), the identify of the exiled Tibetan authorities which oversees as much as 150,000 Tibetans in exile, mentioned the “political re-education marketing campaign has been reinvigorated to Sinicize Tibet.”
Beijing has persistently strongly denied any accusations of rights abuses in Tibet, and says folks in China are free to follow authorised religions, together with Buddhism.
In a Lhasa highschool political ideology class visited by Reuters, a trainer preached the advantages of China’s coverage in Tibet and led them in chants of settlement.
“Our younger folks should cherish the get together, take heed to the get together and be guided by the get together and be loyal to our lovely new Tibet,” mentioned Wang Zhen, Director of the Division of Schooling in Tibet.
(Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard in Lhasa, extra reporting by Cate Cadell in Beijing and Pak Yiu in Hong Kong; Enhancing by Jane Wardell)