After unrest, China likely to focus on Buddhism’s future leaders

SHANGRILA, China, March 25, 2008 (AFP) – Tibetan monks have expressed fears that a stepped-up political campaign following violent anti-Chinese riots in Lhasa would target future Buddhists leaders. China has long held a vice-like grip over Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in an effort to curb an independence drive that it blames on the exiled Dalai Lama, Tibet’s most revered spiritual leader.

But the recent riots in Lhasa and unrest at monasteries in Gansu, Qinghai and Sichuan provinces almost certainly mean that yet another political campaign against Tibetan monks will soon be unleashed, monks and analysts said.

“There are several of us here who have gone to India and received education by the Dalai Lama, including myself,” a monk at the Dhondrupling monastery in Yunnan province, who agreed to be identified by the pseudonym Songsten, told AFP.

“These trips have all been done in secret, but when tensions with the central government are high, these kinds of trips are impossible.”

China has blamed the Dalai Lama for the recent unrest and has vowed to step up a “life and death struggle” to crush “Tibetan splittists” and win the hearts and minds of the Tibetan people.

Already monks