HomeOppression and Human RightsXi Jinping's Strategy to Control Religion

Xi Jinping’s Strategy to Control Religion

Published on

spot_img

In the remote and mystical region of Shangri-la, nestled at the foot of the Himalayas, the reconstructed Ganden Sumtseling Monastery stands as a beacon of Tibetan Buddhism. Originally destroyed during Mao’s Cultural Revolution in 1966, this monastery has been reborn into a sprawling complex that now attracts hordes of Chinese tourists, its golden rooftops shining brightly against the mountain backdrop. This transformation from a site of religious practice to a tourist hotspot underpins a broader, more strategic maneuver by the Chinese government, particularly under the leadership of President Xi Jinping, who views the resurgence of Tibetan Buddhism not only as a challenge to his control but also as an opportunity to fortify his regime.

Under Xi, the state’s approach to religion is twofold: it seeks to suppress any potential dissent while simultaneously co-opting popular religious movements to promote a homogeneous Chinese identity aligned with the Communist Party’s goals. In Tibet, where the Buddhist tradition is deeply intertwined with the local culture and language, Xi’s strategy is particularly aggressive. The government pushes for what it calls the “Sinicization of Buddhism,” a policy aimed at reshaping Tibetan Buddhism to better align with the dominant Han Chinese culture and the political doctrines of the party.

This endeavor involves replacing Tibetan religious texts with Chinese translations and promoting religious practices in Mandarin instead of the local Tibetan languages. Dhondup Rekjong, a Tibetan scholar, has noted that Xi’s ultimate aim is to fully erase Tibet’s own cultural and linguistic identity. In the broader scheme, Xi’s regime has recruited religious leaders who are willing to infuse their teachings with state-sanctioned narratives and socialist propaganda. Monasteries that comply, like Sumtseling, are richly funded and flaunted as models of this Sinicization process.

The implications of these policies extend beyond the monasteries and into the lives of the Tibetan people themselves. The government’s efforts to control Tibetan Buddhism are just one aspect of a larger campaign to assimilate the Tibetan population. Over a million Tibetan children have been sent to boarding schools designed to indoctrinate them into Chinese culture, stripping them of their linguistic and cultural heritage.

Despite these efforts, the popularity of Tibetan Buddhism continues to grow, particularly among China’s urban elites who find the state’s materialist worldview lacking. Even high-ranking party officials are known to follow Tibetan lamas secretly. This growing interest presents both a threat and an opportunity for Xi. On one hand, it threatens the cultural homogeneity he strives to achieve; on the other, it offers a means to co-opt an influential cultural force, turning it into a vehicle for political indoctrination and nationalistic propaganda.

The challenge for Xi is significant. He needs to reshape Tibetan Buddhism in a way that retains its appeal but neutralizes its potential as a focal point for dissent. His approach has been to lavish state support on compliant monasteries while cracking down on those that resist Sinicization. Yet, the allure of Tibetan Buddhism lies in its perceived spiritual authenticity—something that may be diminished under heavy-handed government interference. Joshua Esler, a researcher who studies Tibetan culture, mentioned that the popularity of Tibetan Buddhism among the Han Chinese stems from its spiritual authenticity, which they find missing in their own government-regulated religious practices.

As Xi Jinping consolidates his power, using religion as a tool becomes a double-edged sword. On one side, it could help him cement his authority and achieve his vision of the “Chinese dream” — a united, culturally homogeneous society under the aegis of the Communist Party. On the other, it risks alienating a population that is increasingly seeking spiritual depth and authenticity, potentially driving them toward underground movements or towards figures like the exiled Dalai Lama, who continue to represent an alternative to CCP’s control.

In sum, the strategic manipulation of religion under Xi Jinping’s rule represents a crucial element of his broader effort to reshape Chinese society. By controlling religious expression and co-opting it for state purposes, Xi aims to strengthen his regime’s legitimacy and authority. However, the very nature of faith — with its capacity to inspire deep loyalty and passion — may yet prove to be more resilient than he anticipates. After all, Xi’s “Chinese dream” is a nightmare for the rest of the world.

Latest articles

China Trying to Pull Away U.S. Allies in Asia

In a strategic move to counter U.S. influence, China recently held a rare summit...

Ex-CIA Officer Alexander Yuk Ching Ma Pleads Guilty to Spying for China

In a dramatic courtroom scene in Honolulu, Alexander Yuk Ching Ma, a former CIA...

China Imposes Its Anti-Religious Will Outside of China

China is extending its anti-religious influence across the globe, driven by the Chinese Communist...

China’s Chat ‘Xi’PT Designed for Xi’s Rendition of Socialist Propaganda

China has introduced a new player that blends cutting-edge technology with a heavy dose...

More like this

China Trying to Pull Away U.S. Allies in Asia

In a strategic move to counter U.S. influence, China recently held a rare summit...

Ex-CIA Officer Alexander Yuk Ching Ma Pleads Guilty to Spying for China

In a dramatic courtroom scene in Honolulu, Alexander Yuk Ching Ma, a former CIA...

China Imposes Its Anti-Religious Will Outside of China

China is extending its anti-religious influence across the globe, driven by the Chinese Communist...