Massimo Introvigne for Bitter Winter
There are many images of China during the 20th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party, but those collected and posted on Twitter by American scholar Timothy Grose are the saddest and most extraordinary I have seen so far.
Although Grose also found images of other ethnic-religious minorities, those about Tibetan monks form a unique ensemble. They show the monks obviously compelled to watch the 20th Congress on old-fashioned TV sets and wave Chinese flags when Xi Jinping appears on the screen. In some of the pictures, public security officers are clearly visible. In others, we may safely assume they are there, only just outside the area captured by the camera.
Perhaps the most unique image is the one you see below, stamped “Ganzi Buddhist Association,” i.e., the government-controlled Buddhist body of Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, which is part of historical Tibet but is now in the Chinese province of Sichuan.
These monks cannot even pretend they are watching a national event uniting believers and non-believers. On the left side of the TV set showing Xi Jinping is the Chinese flag, and on the right is the flag of the Communist Party.
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