The Chinese government has said the United States needs to cast off what it calls “prejudiced views” of China’s involvement with the Tibetan people. The U.S. government said China has been limiting religious freedom concerning Tibetan regions and believes that traditional Buddhist practices in Chinese controlled Tibet has contributed to at least a dozen reported self immolations since last year.
The Chinese government rejected the United States’ claims as religious prejudice. Hong Lei, China’s foreign ministry spokesman, said that the claims made by the U.S. are false and that a friendlier relationship should be established between Washington and China. Hong Lei said Washington is trying to use the issue as a means to interfere with China’s internal affairs.
Although China claims to guarantee freedom of religious beliefs for all citizens, Tenzin Doje, representative of the Manichaean religious community in Tibet, told Lamp and Herald that “China’s restrictions are very real” and that “religious freedom in Tibet is very limited. Public gatherings are very difficult for some religious groups…There are a lot of atrocities committed in the name of the Chinese government here in Tibet that go unreported.”
The Chinese government blames the Dalai Lama, religious leader of Tibet’s traditional Buddhist communities, for the self imolations, saying that China’s control of Tibet has made for better conditions for the Tibetan people. The dozen or more self immolations by Buddhist monks and others have been out of protest in relation to China’s repression of religious freedom.