India-based exile government hit back this week at a call by China’s President Xi Jinping to Sinicize the Tibetan people's Buddhist religion, describing the move as an attempt by China’s ruling Communist Party to destroy Tibet’s unique national identity. “Tibetan Buddhism should be guided in adapting to [China’s] socialist society and should be developed in the Chinese context,” President Xi said on Aug. 29 at the 7th Central Symposium on Tibet held in Beijing.
Efforts to make Tibet’s centuries-old faith comply with China’s culture and political goals are misguided and unrealistic, though, Lobsang Sangay—political leader, or Sikyong, of Tibet’s exile Central Tibetan Administration—said in a response issued by the CTA this week. “For Tibetans, Buddhism is more important than Communism,” Sangay said, calling Beijing’s attempt to raise China’s political system over the Tibetan people’s faith “a violation of international religious freedom.”
“[The] Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism is never going to work,” Sangay said. “The last 60 years of Chinese rule in Tibet is a testament to that fact.”