12 May, 2021

Chinese Whispers

The government prefers to play quiet on the Karmapa's exit

Chinese Whispers

In China, if you ask probing questions on politics or sensitive issues, the answer you are likely to get is, "Sorry, I don't know much about it." You cannot blame the ordinary Chinese for this attitude. First, the local media is state-controlled - there's no news which does not eulogise the Communist leadership. Second, the people are naturally cautious - any utterance contrary to the party line invites prompt police retribution.

No wonder, then, so far there hasn't been much talk in Beijing about the flight of Ugyen Trinley Dorje, the 17th Karmapa, to India. On January 8, the lone English newspaper in the Chinese capital, People's Daily, briefly mentioned the incident, but the local people, who read only Chinese language newspapers, are unaware of it. Only a few who surf the Internet know, but like a research scholar at Peking University, they are cautious in their reaction. "I'm happy with the Karmapa's decision," says the scholar. "The Chinese government isn't doing justice to the Tibetans." Most Buddhist scholars and academicians at Peking...

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