Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Gedun Choepel: China is ideologically confused

Gedun Choepel's Gallery on the Bakhor
China is ideologically confused.
Three months ago, China Tibet Online reported: "A museum in commemoration of Gedun Chophel [Choepel], a Tibetan humanism pioneer and scholar, is expected to be completed in Lhasa in July, 2013."
The Chinese website commented: "With a strong Tibetan flavor, the Gedun Chophel Museum is part of the Lhasa old town's protection project, covering an area of 1,269 square meters and consisting of three stories."
According to the Communist media: "[Gedun Chophel] pursued truth, upheld humanist spirit, turned his conception of history from Buddhist theology to humanism, and made important contribution to Tibetan modern academic and intellectual history."
Now, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA): "Authorities in western China’s Sichuan province have blocked plans by Tibetans to observe the 100th anniversary of the birth of famed Tibetan writer and thinker Gendun Choephel, as Beijing continues to crack down on public assertions of Tibetan cultural and national identity".
Apart from the Museum in Lhasa, there is a Gedun Choephel Gallery of Modern Art on the Bakhor.
About the ban, RFA explains: "The action came despite recent moves by Beijing to present Gendun Choephel to Tibetans as a 'progressive' figure in modern Tibetan culture."
A gathering was organized to discuss Choephel’s life and influence on August 24 in Ngaba town (in Chinese, Aba) of Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture (Sichuan province).
Gedun Choepel with Pandit Rahula Sankrityayan
RFA says that "local authorities objected a few days before the event. ...It was planned by a group of young monks from different monasteries in the Ngaba area and by young local laypersons, and the monks and other Tibetan youth had raised the needed funds.”
However, when the Communist authorities learned of the plan, the organizers were told they could not have the event.
RFA says that "local Tibetans were disappointed by the officials’ action, ...the local community liked such discussions on Tibetan culture, and the events had become popular.”
Robert Barnett of Columbia University explained that Gedun "was certainly ‘progressive,’ but I think that his view of history would not quite fit the current ruling Chinese Communist Party model.”
Perhpas, but in this case why to open a Gedun Choepel Museum in Lhasa?
It is sometimes difficult to understand the Middle Kingdom!

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