Last July/Aug, when I visited the "TAR" and Sera monastery, I was impressed by the fascinating tradition of debating in monasteries and nunneries. Part of a traditionally lengthy program of Buddhist philosophy study, debating has been permitted in China's Tibet and has been marketed to attract tourists, leaving them with the impression that all is thriving in Tibetan monastic studies. However, again, this is merely a superficial show of "religious freedom". Many and varied regulations limit the number of monks and nuns permitted to enter the monastery, if they are permitted entry at all. Whereas Tibetan-run monasteries and nunneries accepted monks and nuns on the basis of their desire to study and practise Buddhism, the PRC now controls all aspects of monastic life, under the auspices of a Monastery Democratic Control Committee.
steaming ahead June 30th 2006 A rather momentous event will happen tomorrow, July 1: China will officially open its railway to Tibet. It is a hugely contested issue and stands to benefit the Chinese more than Tibetans in many respects.
Most of the articles coming out of China laud the railway as a progressive step towards modernizing Tibet and building up its economy. However, given China's track record in economic deve ... read more