China denies lifting ban on Dalai Lama worship

Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama prays during a talk to young Tibetans at the Tibetan Children's Village School in Dharamsala, India, Thursday, June 27, 2013 The Dalai Lama lives in exile in northern India

Related Stories

The Chinese government has issued a strong denial of reports that its long-standing ban on openly worshipping the Dalai Lama has changed.

It comes after reports that restrictions on worshipping the Dalai Lama had been eased in some areas.

In a statement to the BBC, the state bureau for religious affairs said there had been no policy change.

The Dalai Lama, the spiritual head of Tibetan Buddhism, fled in 1959 after a failed uprising against Chinese rule.


Persistent reports from Tibetan advocacy organizations, including Free Tibet and the US-funded broadcaster, Radio Free Asia, indicated that an "experimental" policy allowed the open worship of the Dalai Lama in some Tibetan monasteries.

However, the BBC was unable to confirm this news, despite repeated phone calls to monasteries in Lhasa, the capital of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, and Tibetan areas in the provinces of Qinghai and Sichuan.

Several monks admitted they had heard of possible changes to the government's long-standing policy, but said they had not witnessed any relaxation in policy themselves.

Portraits of the Tibetan spiritual leader are still banned, the monks explained. Only officially sanctioned images of the Buddha are permitted to be displayed, one monk in Lhasa confirmed today.

For years, senior Communist officials have infuriated Tibetan Buddhists by referring to the Dalai Lama with a series of derogatory names, the BBC's Celia Hatton in Beijing reports.

Zhang Qingli, the Communist Party chief in charge of Tibet until 2011, famously referred to the Buddhist cleric as "a wolf in monk's robes".

A report on Radio Free Asia suggested that Buddhists in China's Tibetan areas were able to worship the Dalai Lama openly and that some temples could display portraits of the Dalai Lama and no one was allowed to criticise him.

But monasteries contacted by the BBC said they were unaware of any change in policy and, in a faxed statement to the BBC on Friday, the government said that China's policy towards the Dalai Lama was "consistent and clear".

"If the Dalai Lama wants to improve his relationship with the Central Government, he must really give up his stance in favour of 'Tibetan Independence' or independence in any disguised forms."

He now lives in Dharamsala in northern India, travelling the world to seek support for more rights for Tibetan people.

Beijing accuses him of trying to split Tibet, with its separate culture and language, from the rest of China. The Dalai Lama says he only wants greater autonomy.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More China stories


Features & Analysis

  • Cartoon of women chatting on the metroChat wagon

    The interesting things you hear in a women-only carriage

  • Replica of a cargo boxSpecial delivery

    The man who posted himself to the other side of the world

  • Music scoreFinal score Watch

    Goodbye to NYC's last classical sheet music shop

  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton checks her Blackberry from a desk inside a C-17 military plane upon her departure from Malta, in the Mediterranean Sea, bound for Tripoli, Libya'Emailgate'

    Hillary gets a taste of scrutiny that lies ahead

Elsewhere on the BBC

  • Audi R8Best in show

    BBC Autos takes a look at 10 of the most eye-catching new cars at the 2015 Geneva motor show


  • A cyborg cockroachClick Watch

    The cyborg cockroach – why has a computer been attached to this insect’s nervous system?

Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.