The Buddha Party: How the People's Republic of China Works to Define and Control Tibetan Buddhism

ISBN : 9780199358151

John Powers
392 Pages
156 x 235 mm
Pub date
Nov 2016
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The Buddha Party tells the story of how the People's Republic of China employs propaganda to define Tibetan Buddhist belief and sway opinion within the country and abroad. The narrative they create is at odds with historical facts and deliberately misleading, but, John Powers argues, it is widely believed by Han Chinese. Most of China's leaders appear to deeply believe the official line regarding Tibet, which resonates with Han notions of themselves as China's most advanced nationality and as a benevolent race that liberates and culturally uplifts minority peoples. This in turn profoundly affects how the leadership interacts with their counterparts in other countries. Powers's study focuses in particular on the government's "patriotic education" campaign-an initiative that forces monks and nuns to participate in propaganda sessions and repeat official dogma. Powers contextualizes this within a larger campaign to transform China's religions into "patriotic" systems that endorse Communist Party policies. This book offers a powerful, comprehensive examination of this ongoing phenomenon, how it works and how Tibetans resist it.


1 Acts of Ingratitude
2 The Limitations of Propaganda
3 Patriotic Soul Boys and Other Chinese Myths
4 Tibetology with Chinese Characteristics
5 Chinese and Tibetan Perspectives on History
6 Conclusion
Appendix A: Tibetan Spellings
Appendix B: Chinese Terms
Appendix C: Buddhist Terms

About the author: 

John Powers is Professor of Asian Studies in the College of Asia and the Pacific, Australian National University. He specializes in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan history and is the author of 17 books and more than 80 articles. His books include A Bull of A Man: Images of Masculinity, Sex, and the Body in Indian Buddhism (2009) and Historical Dictionary of Tibet (with David Templeman; 2012).

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