Resistance to Plans to ‘Re-brand’ Another Monastery Into Tourist Destination

Kumbum Monastery
Kumbum Monastery
17th July 2017

Monks and locals at Kumbum Monastery react to China’s latest plan to convert a monastery into a tourist spot


Authorities in Rushar County, Qinghai Province, are planning to turn the great Buddhist institute and holy site of Kumbum Monastery into a public museum and tourist destination, according to local reports.

Local Tibetans and monks have voiced strong opposition to the project, saying that this important Buddhist monastery and holy site should not be changed for such commercial purposes. They have been drawing attention to the deep reverence held for the monastery by many as a valued site for Tibetans and followers of Tibetan Buddhism.


Local protest

A self-formed committee of monks and local Tibetans submitted a nine-point petition to the government of Rushar County. Dated 11 July 2017 and printed on the monastery’s official letterhead, the petition highlights the historical significance of the monastery and the deep reverence held for it, both inside and outside Tibet.

Kumbum Monastery has over 600 years of history and is the main monastery of Jey Tsongkhapa - the founder of the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism.

The petition also states the need to maintain and preserve the monastery and its relics rather than using these for business purposes. It appeals to the Chinese authorities to listen to the will of the people.

It remains to be seen how the authorities react to the petition. Appointed officials in Kumbum Monastery’s monastic administration work for the government and similar plans in the same area have already disrupted life for those visiting on pilgrimage.

Much as Larung Gar Tibetan Buddhist Academy has been subject to aggressive conversion, this development appears to be part of an emerging trend to convert strongholds of Buddhism in Tibet into tourist-friendly destinations.


Take Action

Among the many issues that Tibetans face is the ongoing destruction of Larung Gar Buddhist Institute. Pressure is growing on the Chinese authorities to halt the forcible eviction of residents at the religious centre and the demolition of their precious homes.

Add your voice to the call for this destructive action to stop.