China’s Red Flag replaces Tibetan hilltop prayer flags in Sinicization drive

Chinese police raise China's flag over discarded Tibetan prayer flags on a hilltop in Qinghai's Matoe county in an undated photo. (Photo courtesy: RFA)

(, Jan20’22) – Apparently acting under President Xi Jinping’s renewed campaign especially in the so-called minority areas, China is carrying out a new, more aggressive Sinicization campaign in Matoe (Chinese: Maduo) County in Golog (Guoluo) Prefecture, Qinghai Province. Under it, China is subjecting Tibetan nomads living in scattered communities across the country to a new round of political education and removing their prayer flags to be replaced with its symbolic Red Flag of domination.

“The Chinese government is putting up the national flag in places where Tibetans usually perform traditional religious ceremonies. They are also removing Tibetan prayer flags hung on the hilltops, saying they are not environmentally friendly, and are demolishing the furnaces used to perform smoke offerings used in purification ceremonies,” the Tibetan Service of Jan 19 quoted an exile Tibetan with local contacts as saying.

The report said similar campaign actions had been reported by sources in other Tibetan areas, including Tibet’s ancient capital Lhasa, where China in Nov 2020 banned ritual burning of juniper boughs at the city’s iconic Jokhang Temple.

The report cited experts and observers as saying the destruction of prayer flags and the restrictions at the Jokhang and other religious sites signaled a growing pattern of Chinese control over traditional Tibetan religious practice and increasing attempts by Beijing to recast Tibetan Buddhism as a Chinese faith system.


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