In mid-February, it was reported that the Chinese government had banned all foreign tourists visiting Tibet until April 1. The ban was put in place by the Chinese regime due to the fact that this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Tibetan Uprising. Afraid of a large-scale protest in the region on the occasion, the authorities decided to cut off Tibet from foreign contact.
In the early 20th century, Tibet had declared itself an independent nation, distinct from China. However, Beijing invaded and took control of the region in 1951. The Dalai Lama was also designated as the head of the Tibetan state by the Chinese administration. But relations between both of them were very tense.
In 1959, Chinese authorities asked the Dalai Lama to attend an event on March 10 without his bodyguards. Tibetans feared that this was a ploy to murder their spiritual leader. Subsequently, Tibetan people encircled the Dalai Lama’s palace to ensure that Chinese troops would not forcefully enter and capture him. They also demanded that Chinese authorities immediately leave Tibet.
This infuriated Beijing, which sent a strong military force to attack the region. Subsequently, thousands of Tibetans were captured and killed during a violent suppression of their faith. The Dalai Lama was successful in escaping capture. He was given shelter in Dharamshala, India, and has been living there ever since.
Tibetans worldwide celebrate March 10 as Tibetan Uprising Day, the day when they united to oppose Chinese supremacists. Being the 60th anniversary this year, several demonstrations in support of Tibet’s independence were held across the world. Beijing made the regular statements of how Tibet belongs to China and accused the Dalai Lama of being a separatist.
“Tibet belongs to Tibetans… Sixty years of the occupation of Tibet and the repression of Tibetans is too long,” Lobsang Sangay, the Prime Minister-in-exile of Tibet, said in a statement (Qrius). Almost 100,000 Tibetans are estimated to live in India.
Persecution of Tibetan Buddhists has increased in recent times as Beijing seems to be singularly focused on eliminating their identity and making them “Chinese.” Mandarin has been made compulsory over the native Tibetan language. Buddhist monks are forced to study communism and interpret their faith through communist ideology.
Future Dalai Lama
Meanwhile, there is uncertainty in the Tibetan Buddhist community as to who will be the next Dalai Lama. Traditionally, after the death of a Dalai Lama, the High Lamas embark on a search for the next spiritual leader, which often tends to be a young boy from Tibet. But with them being separated from Tibet, the community is not sure how to move forward with the matter.
“There is no guarantee that some stupid Dalai Lama won’t come next, who will disgrace himself or herself. That would be very sad… So, much better that a centuries-old tradition should cease at the time of a quite popular Dalai Lama,” Tenzin Gyatso, the current Dalai Lama, said in a statement (ABC News).
He also suggested that the next leader might not even come from Tibet. Instead, he says that the future Dalai Lama will either come from outside Tibet or will never be found. China is reportedly trying to ensure that the next Dalai Lama is from their country and is readying a candidate loyal to the Communist Party. However, given the violent history Beijing has with Tibetan Buddhists, this seems like a pipe dream.