China Must Do Much More If It Truly Claims to Respect Freedom of Religion

Article excerpt

I would like to take issue with some of the observations of the Chinese Embassy's press counselor, Yu Shuning ("China supports religious freedom, but it will not tolerate secessionism," Letters, June 12).

It is true that some religious institutions are currently being renovated in Tibet. However, the Chinese government cannot take much credit for this. We should not forget that these sacred institutions were destroyed, some of them irreparably, at the instigation of the Chinese authorities in the first place. Also, the funding for many of the renovations comes from the local population and not the Chinese government.

China proudly refers to the restoration of the Potala and other religious institutions as proof of its respect for Tibetan religion and culture. But judging by the recent policy of repression unleashed on Tibetan believers in Tibet, it is apparent that the officially sponsored restorations were more aimed toward Western tourists than the Tibetan people themselves. If China understands Tibetan religions correctly, then it would have realized that rebuilding the monasteries is not enough. …