Ganzi Regulations on "Tibetan Buddhist Affairs" Moving Toward Approval

May 20, 2011

Regulatory measures for "Tibetan Buddhist Affairs" in Ganzi (Kardze) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (TAP), Sichuan province, are moving through the legislative process toward approval. According to information available in the Commission's Political Prisoner Database (PPD), more than half of monastic political detentions in TAPs outside the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) during the period since March 2008―when Tibetan protests (and some rioting) spread across the Tibetan plateau―have been in Ganzi TAP. A March 2011 report by this Commission demonstrated a correlation between the number of detentions in each TAP on or after March 10, 2008, and the extensiveness of regulatory measures' provisions on punishment. The Commission has not yet located text of the Ganzi regulatory measures online. However, if the correlation found for other TAP regulations remains valid in Ganzi TAP, then Ganzi monks and nuns could face further increases in the repressive application of administrative and criminal punishments. New regulatory measures on "Tibetan Buddhist affairs" already in effect in 7 of the 10 TAPs outside the TAR substantially increase state infringement of "freedom of religious belief" in Article 36 of China's Constitution by subordinating "Tibetan Buddhist affairs" to government regulations that enforce Communist Party policy.

Sichuan People's Congress Standing Committee To Discuss Regulations in Late May

On May 3, 2011, the leadership of the Sichuan People's Congress Standing Committee decided that the Standing Committee would discuss at a May 25 to 27 meeting legislative matters including a report on the Ganzi TAP Tibetan Buddhist Affairs Regulations (Ganzi Regulations), according to a May 4 Xinhua report. The 2011 Sichuan Province People's Congress Legislation Plan, dated February 21 and posted on the Web site of the Sichuan People's Congress Standing Committee on March 31, listed approval of the Ganzi Measures as part of the 2011 agenda. The Commission's March 2011 report noted that in June 2010 the Ganzi People's Congress Standing Committee was considering a report on a draft of the Ganzi Regulations (Ganzi Daily, reprinted in Chinese Buddhism Online). China's Constitution (Article 116) and Regional Ethnic Autonomy Law (Article 19) require an ethnic autonomous prefecture to submit draft regulations for approval to the standing committee of the provincial-level people's congress where the prefecture is located before the regulations can take effect.

Potential Implications for Ganzi TAP Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries and Nunneries

Table 3 in the Commission's March 2011 report demonstrated a correlation between the extensiveness of the regulatory measures' provisions on punishment (detailed in Table 2 of the report) and the number of Tibetan Buddhist monks, nuns, teachers, or trulkus (teachers whom Tibetan Buddhists believe are reincarnations) known to have been detained or imprisoned in each TAP on or after March 10, 2008. If that correlation remains valid in Ganzi TAP―the site of more than half of Tibetan monastic political detentions outside the TAR since March 2008, based on PPD data as of May 12, 2011―then Ganzi monks and nuns could face further increases in the repressive application of administrative and criminal punishments. (According to PPD data on May 12, of 934 Tibetan political detentions recorded on or after March 10, 2008, 535 were of monks, nuns, teachers, and trulkus. Of those 535, 135 were detained in the TAR and 400 were detained outside the TAR. Of the 400 detained outside the TAR, 205 were detained in Ganzi TAP. PPD data on Tibetan political detention since March 2008 are certain to be far from complete.) If the structure and content of the Ganzi Regulations are similar to the seven prefectural-level regulatory measures analyzed in the Commission's March 2011 report, the Ganzi Regulations may implement measures that include:

  • Increasing the authority of Buddhist Associations (BAs)―institutional links between Tibetan Buddhist institutions and the Chinese government and Party that facilitate the exercise of government and Party authority over Tibetan Buddhist activity;
  • Closer monitoring and supervision of each monastery's Democratic Management Committee (DMC)―a monastic group legally obligated to ensure that monks, nuns, and teachers obey government laws, regulations, and policies;
  • Implementing a requirement for DMCs to apply to BAs for a fixed quota on the number of monks or nuns who may reside at a monastery or nunnery;
  • Strengthening BA and government control over "religious personnel" who wish to travel for the purpose of religious teaching or study;
  • Significant expansion of township-level government authority over monasteries and nunneries;
  • Providing to village-level committees a monitoring, supervisory, and reporting role on monastic activity.

Senior Party Official Summarizes the Outlook for Tibetan Buddhism in China

In early April 2011, Zhu Weiqun, Executive Deputy Head of the Party's United Front Work Department, summarized Party policies toward the Tibetan Buddhist religion, monasteries, and nunneries in a manner that reflects the provisions in the recent prefectural regulatory measures (Tibet Daily, 7 April 11 (translated in OSC)):

  • He expressed his hopes that religious personages and believers will always implement the line, principle, and policies of the Party, unswervingly carry out struggle against the Dalai clique, expose the reactionary essence of Dalai, establish a sound and permanent mechanism for the management of monasteries, and ensure that all activities of monasteries will have rules to follow. In addition, their interpretations of religious doctrines and rules must be line [sic] with social development and progress and ensure that Tibetan Buddhism will actively adapt itself to socialist society.


Zhu is also a principal participant in the formal dialogue between the Dalai Lama's representatives and Chinese government and Communist Party officials that resumed in 2002. The most recent round of dialogue was in January 2010 (CECC, 2010 Annual Report, 219-220). In a May 7, 2011, interview (China Tibet Online, 7 May 11, reprinted on the Web site of the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in India) Zhu discussed his views on the dialogue and summarized the Party's negative assessment of the Dalai Lama by reiterating a set of "four labels" the Party attributed to the Dalai Lama in 1995. The fourth "label" described the Dalai Lama's effect on what the Party refers to as the "normal order" of Tibetan Buddhism (or here, the "regular religious order"): "the leader of the separatist clique that conspires the independence of Tibet, a ready puppet of the international anti-China forces, the root of social disorder in Tibet, and the biggest obstacle against regular religious order of Tibet Buddhism." Zhu asserted that the Dalai Lama "continued to prove" the Party's allegations and would "die with those 'four labels.'"

For additional information, see sections on religious freedom for Tibetan Buddhists in the Commission's 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, and 2006 Annual Reports.