From The Epoch Times, Sunday, April 25, 2010
Beijing Sidelines Tibetan Monks’ Heroism
The first rescue efforts at Yushu in the aftermath of the earthquake on April 14 were initiated by hundreds of monks from nearby Tibetan Buddhist monasteries. In the few days that followed, nearly 10,000 monks arrived in Yushu, forming the largest rescue team there.
The monks rescued the injured from collapsed buildings, took care of the survivors, and prepared food for the hungry. They cremated the dead bodies and held prayers for those who had passed away. In orphanages whose care-takers had fled, they took care of children.
While survivors expressed their gratitude to the monks, the Chinese regime seemed deeply unsettled by the influence monks and the Buddhist tradition continue to have in Tibet, despite the 50 years of rule under the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) atheist ideology.
Monks were ordered to leave the region, and Politburo Standing Committee member Li Changchun instructed the Propaganda Divisions to make no mention of the efforts made by Tibetan monks, and to “promote the People’s Liberation Army, paramilitary police, police’s role” and the “guidance” from the Central CCP, State Council, and local CCP leadership.
Wen Jiabao, the regime’s second-in-command, visited the site three days after the earthquake and had to admit that the Tibetan monks contributed much to the rescue efforts, but his statement was not covered by the Chinese state-controlled media.
In the hours of TV coverage during the National Day of Mourning, no monks were shown, while the efforts by the People’s Armed Police and the military were continually touted.
Propaganda Downplays Tragedy
Reports from the affected regions tell a different story. The Chinese rescue forces did not arrive until the day after the earthquake, and their rescue efforts were not intense. Foreign aid, including from countries with much earthquake relief expertise, such as Japan, was turned down. A rescue team from Taiwan was eventually allowed in, but they could only arrive 72 hours after the tragedy struck.
While the official explanation for turning down foreign help was limited transportation capacity and logistical challenges, the real reasons could lie in things the CCP wishes to hide.
Locals say the regime is downplaying the death toll. Monks and rescue workers put the number of deaths at over 10,000, while Beijing gives a statistic of just above 2,000.
Following the Sichuan earthquake, the regime had announced that school buildings would be constructed to withstand magnitude 7 quakes. In the area near the county seat of Jiegu, nearly 85 percent of the buildings collapsed, including many schools, resulting in the deaths of many children.
Some believe the Richter scale magnitude was manipulated to 7.1 to avoid having to explain why the schools, many of which were built recently, did not meet the earthquake resistance standards. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, the quake measured 6.9 on the Richter scale.
The population of Yushu is 97% ethnic Tibetan and among them, there is much dissatisfaction with Chinese rule. Several locals refused to shake hands with Wen during his visit. “You visit as if you were the leader of thugs, not to show your genuine love for the people. We do not have enough aid,” a monk shouted at Wen, according to a Radio Free Asia report.
Beijing has also been trying to hide that local Tibetans and monks are hoping the Dalai Lama would visit the region. Tibetan monks had been conducting prayers for their spiritual leader to arrive.
The Dalai Lama, who was born in Qinghai Province, where Yushu County is located, sent letters to console the residents and had expressed his wish to visit the affected regions. Despite it being a great opportunity to ease Beijing-Tibet relations, China did not respond to the request.
Leading Chinese earthquake experts, including Shen Zongpi, Yu Xianghong, and Zhang Deliang, had issued warnings that an earthquake may be forthcoming in the region. The China Earthquake Administration ignored the reports and announced on March 9, “There will not be any destructive earthquakes in mainland China in the near future.”
The Yushu earthquake has been one of the most devastating quakes to hit China in recent years, second only to the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.