Are Buddhsist Racist

Read my one & only interview in the New Statesman

What is Racism?


Race can be defined as:

"A classification system used to categorise humans into distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, and/or social affiliation.”


Racism can be defined as:

“The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.”


When a group of people are labeled according to a certain religious belief or affiliation and their access to public services, jobs, livelihoods and social freedoms are denied or restricted on the basis of this belief or affiliation this is racism.

The Chinese Link

It always surprises me how seriously other journalists take claims that the protests are funded by the Chinese government without even bothering to check if the claims are true. The rumours circulate around every protest media pool and they always seem to originate from the Tibetan government and the Dalai Lama's representatives, so naturally I'm a little sceptical about them.

It's claimed that the Chinese government funds the costs for people to travel to the demonstrations and even go as far as to pay people a stipend for each day they attend. I'm sure that the Chinese government are quite happy about people protesting against the Dalai Lama, but try as I might I couldn't find any evidence to support these claims.

Of all the people who have contacted me about the claims, none have been able to offer a single piece of evidence to back them up. Every request for evidence I have made is always greeted with silence.

Also I couldn't understand why the Chinese government would bother getting their hands dirty by funding such protests. The main reason I am dubious about these claims (other than the complete absence of evidence) is that the logic doesn't add up.


How does the Chinese Government undermine the Dalai Lama?

In 2010 Liu Xiabobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Institute whilst he was serving his 4th prison term as a political prisoner in China. As a result China severed all high level contact with Norway.

In 2014 when the Dalai Lama was due to visit Norway to mark the 25th anniversary of his own Nobel Peace Prize the Norwegian Government decided not to meet with him as a "necessary sacrifice" to try and improve its relations with China.

Subsequently the Tibetan Government criticised this decision saying, "It's unfortunate that the Norwegian leadership did not meet with the Dalai Lama because of the tremendous pressure of the Chinese government." 

In 2009 South Africa refused a visa for the Dalai Lama to attend a conference aimed at using the World Cup to tackle racism. Desmond Tutu who had invited the Dalai Lama to attend the conference said of the decision, "we are shamelessly succumbing to Chinese pressure". The South African government had been warned by the Chinese embassy that the visit by the Dalai Lama was "inopportune" and would harm their relationship.

Likewise the Dalai Lama was refused a visa to attend Nelson Mandela's funeral in 2013.

In 2011 Julia Gillard who was then the Australian Prime Minister also refused to meet with the Dalai Lama because of concerns that it would upset delicate trade agreements with China.

Given that the Chinese economy is so tied to that of the rest of the world their government already has effective measures of undermining the Dalai Lama on his various trips through diplomatic channels and trade pressure. So why would they risk exposure to public outcry if they were caught orchestrating or sponsoring public demonstrations against him?


Why do the rumours persist?

Despite no evidence to support them and despite the fact that they are illogical, the rumours persist mainly because of the Tibetan Government.

In their 2014 resolution criminalising the practice of Dorje Shugden they also state that Dorje Shugden practitioners, "are being deceived by the Chinese government through monetary and material incentive and are used as political tools." It's a common practice amongst Tibetan officials to repeat this allegation about anyone who contradicts the Dalai Lama.

Thupten Wangchen of the CTA said in a recent interview that he had spoken to Chinese members of the protest group that had confirmed they are paid by the Chinese government. This was the only evidence he offered to support these claims even though they have been made repeatedly for years.

As to why a Chinese sponsored demonstrator would speak to a member of the Tibetan government during the protests and also admit they were paid by the Chinese government was never explained by Thupten Wangchen.

Given that the Chinese are the common enemy of the Tibetan community it seems much more likely that by claiming the Chinese government are behind the protests the CTA hope to galvanise support for its ban of Dorje Shugden and further isolate any Tibetan protesters.


Chinese Outreach Program

In trying to find evidence of any Chinese connections with Dorje Shugden practitioners and protesters I accidentally stumbled across an unusual program of the Tibetan government called the Chinese Outreach Program, which may help to explain the reason for these claims.

Ostensibly the program aims to offer support and make connections with Chinese writers and activists who are promoting political changes in China. The program is funded by the Department of Information and International Relations of the CTA and administered by their Offices of Tibet throughout the world.

Of the records we were able to obtain we discovered that the US Office of Tibet spent $28,835.86 on supporting Chinese activists in the year from 1st oct 2009 to 30th sep 2010. The Office ignored our request to explain or give any further information about what this financial support may have entailed or to whom it was given.

If you consider that there are 10 Offices of Tibet throughout the world, if each one made a similar financial contribution under the Chinese Outreach Program it would mean the Tibetan government was spending over $250,000 a year funding Chinese activists.

If this is the case it would explain why the CTA is so convinced that people protesting against its own policies must be funded by the Chinese government since they spend so much money funding people who speak out against the Chinese government.

Unfortunately for the CTA just because they fund Chinese political activists it doesn't mean that the Chinese government is funding the protests against the Dalai Lama's ban - evidence of one's own misdeeds is not proof of another's.

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