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16:35 Dec 15 2008

Special ReportNetizen's VoiceMedia Voice
English>>China>>China Society
Freedom of religious belief in Tibet fully protected
16:18, April 08, 2008  

-Currently, there are over 1,700 Tibetan Buddhist temples of various sizes and approximately 46,300 Buddhist monks and nuns in the Tibet Autonomous Region.

- Since the 1980s, the central government has provided more than 700 million yuan for the renovation of religious sites in Tibet.

- The central government has invested 35 million yuan and spent 16 years arranging and publishing the Tibetan "Tripitaka."

- A group of religious persons are members of the regional NPC and CPPCC; and serve as leaders at various levels.

Early in the morning, the Potala Palace in Lhasa is surrounded by lots of people. Tibetan religious believers begin their daily Sutra Turning around the Potala Palace. Since the "March 14 Incident" in Lhasa, regular religious activities in the region have been gradually restored. The freedom of religious belief is fully protected.

After Tibet's peaceful liberation, the central government and autonomous regional governments at every level has always respected and protected the Tibetan people's freedom of religious belief according to the law. There are currently over 1,700 Tibetan Buddhist temples of various sizes and approximately 46,300 Buddhist monks and nuns. And there are four mosques and one Catholic church. These religious facilities have been meeting the needs of religious believers in Tibet.

In Tibet, people are often seen engaging in various kinds of religious activities. Streamers fly everywhere and mounds of marnyi stones with Buddhist scriptures engraved on them can be seen. People enjoy the full freedom of religious belief. Nearly every religious believer makes a niche for a Buddhist statue in their house. They also invite monks to chant Buddhist scripts during weddings and funerals. During every traditional Tibetan religious festival, believers engage in Sutra Turning; worship the Buddha; burn incense; give alms; and redeem vows as they see fit. Every year, more than one million people come to Lhasa to worship the Buddha. Religious activities, such as the annual Shoton Festival and "Turning Around the Nam Co Lake" in year of Sheep, are carried out regularly and respected throughout society.

With strong support from the central government, a number of important religious sites have been repaired in Tibet. Since the 1980s, the central financial authorities have allocated more than 700 million yuan to repair and maintain the Tibet temples, pagodas, festival palaces, and other religious sites including Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery, Gandan Monastery, Tashilhunpo Monastery, the Sagya Monastery, the Jokhang Monastery, the Samye Monastery, and Shalu Monastery in Lhasa; and many small and medium-sized temples. From 1989 to 1994, the State allocated more than 55 million yuan in special funds and large quantities of gold and silver for the maintenance of the Potala Palace – an unprecedented event in the history of heritage preservation in the new China. Since the beginning of June 2002, the country has added another 330 million yuan to repair the three major cultural relics in Tibet: the Potala Palace, Norbu Lingka Monastery and Sagya Monastery. This has been the largest heritage maintenance work in Tibet since the founding of New China.

Many Tibetan Buddhist scriptures have been restored and are under scientific management. Since the 1980s, the State has invested a total of 35 million yuan and spent 16 years collating and publishing the Tibetan "Tripitaka:" an event which meets the demands of monks, nuns, and religious scholars. Since 1984, the government have presented temples with "Ganzhuer" (in the Tibetan language, Lhasa version); and has funded 1.5 million yuan towards printing the only copies of "Ganzhuer", "Danzhuer" and some Buddhist rites, biographies, and works.

Ngapo Ngawang Jigme said that in order to legally manage religious affairs and to protect people's freedom of religious belief, the autonomous regional government, between 2003 to 2007, drafted eight local laws and regulations, including the "Regulations on Religious Affairs" and the "Interim Management Regulations on Monks' Examination for Promotion to Lha-rams-pa Degree," so as to gradually incorporate the management of religious activities into institutions and the law.

In order to cultivate a group of patriots with higher religious attainment and law-abiding awareness, from 2005 onwards, the autonomous region resumed the examination system for the promotion of Tibetan Buddhist monks. So far, 18 monks have received the Lha-rams-pa Degree. At the same time, the autonomous region formulated a religious clergy training program; and hosted training classes for the key management personnel in monasteries. Since 2006, more than 400 people from over 200 monasteries have participated in training programs regarding law, religious management, and patriotism. Many trainees have also had opportunities to visit inland areas and developed coastal regions for further study. Cities and counties have organized more than 70 training classes; and trained more than 4,000 people. Regional governments at every level respect the lives of monks and have incorporated them into the social security system. At present, a group of patriotic religious believers with relatively higher religious attainment and moral standards have entered the autonomous region's NPC and CPPCC; and served as leaders at every level. In the beginning of this year, more than 50 religious persons were elected as new members of the Tibet Autonomous Region's CPPCC.

By People's Daily Online

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