Jokhang temple destruction?

Posted: 15/05/2013 in ONE planet


I was horrified to read this:-

Tibet Post article

I visited the Jokhang temple in 2003, and it was a part of a memorable visit to Tibet.

The Tibet Post is written by Tibetans in exile, that is their political position. Within the article there appears contradictions:-

“the Chinese authorities have begun demolishing the ancient capital of Lhasa, including one of the most important Buddhist sites of the city, Tibet’s holiest Jokhang Temple.”

and

“The Potala Palace was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1994. In 2000 and 2001, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka were added to the list as extensions to the sites.”

How can destruction have begun at Jokhang if it is a heritage site

There is no doubts in my mind that all three should be heritage sites, I visited Potala Palace and Noorblinka as well. China saw Tibet as a religious oligarchy, there is no doubt in my mind that the religion demeaned people. It was a common practice for people to crawl on their hands and knees across hundreds of kilometres to reach Potala Palace. From the outside it would appear that the religious oligarchy was exploiting the people, but for me the significant reality is that the people believed in the Dalai Lama and Tibetan Buddhism, whatever they did was by choice. One can always argue about choice and indoctrination but I have no doubts at all about saying that the Tibetan people chose their Buddhism and western people are indoctrinated into accepting capitalism. This choice was so painfully obvious I completely dispute this academic picture presented by Michael Parenti.

In this links page I discuss some of my feelings about Lhasa and Tibet. I mentioned the lovely Chinese waitress who was working in Chinese Lhasa – not having met a white person. Up in Ganden and Namtso this was not an issue. What was painfully clear in central Lhasa was an economic divide – Chinese Lhasa and Tibetan Lhasa, undoubtedly Tibetan Lhasa was much poorer. I am assuming this is the Barkhor district referred to in the Tibetan Post article – cant remember. It now is clear to me that it was a typical colonial strategy of investment. The Chinese took over municipal control of Lhasa and did not provide enough money for the upkeep of Tibetan Lhasa, and now they have their excuse for knocking it down. I also remember noting there was a difference in atmosphere in Central Lhasa between the two sides, the Tibetan side was “freer” – a much more pleasant place to be. Overall my year in China was very pleasant, the students were great to teach – despite the horrendous problems with the management, and the people were always friendly – even though being in Chengdu was extremely difficult due to cultural differences.

The article clearly mentions a Chinese tourist strategy and development of cities in China herself, but that does not excuse this. I hope the confusion in the article means that the temple is not being knocked down (as said) but that there are plans to make that area of Lhasa a tourist area plans which can hopefully be altered to keep the heritage of the Jokhang temple. People should also note that tourism is big business in Tibet, there are regular plane loads of Chinese people who visit there. I only have to look at Thailand to see the destruction the tourist industry brings – but Thailand preserves her temples. China appears to want to rid herself of Tibetan Buddhism, and this appears to fit in with that strategy.

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